YGLESIAS GETS IT [Jonah Goldberg]
I may disagree with him on all sorts of things, but I think Matt Yglesias is exactly right about the Democratic Party's fixation with coalitional politics. Though I suspect I think it's a harder problem to fix than he does. But who knows?
Posted at 05:09 PM
ACROSS THE BAY [Jonah Goldberg ]
I think he uses too many exclamation points, but beside from that Tony remains vital reading especially for those interested in the Cedar Revolution.
Posted at 04:55 PM
THIS SOUNDS AWFUL [Rich Lowry ]
From the Washington Post, the case of a soldier who reported abuse of detainees in Iraq:
"The soldier complained that he had had to resuscitate abused detainees and urged the unit's withdrawal. He told investigators that the unit's commander, an Army captain, responded by giving him `30 seconds to withdraw my request or he was going to send me forcibly to go see a psychiatrist.' The soldier added: `I told him I was not going to withdraw my request and at that time he confiscated my weapon and informed me he was withdrawing my security clearance and was placing me under 24-hour surveillance.'
A witness in his unit told investigators that the captain later pressured a military doctor -- who had found the soldier stable -- into doing another emergency evaluation, saying: `I don't care what you saw or heard, he is imbalanced, and I want him out of here.'
The next day, after the doctor did another evaluation, the soldier was evacuated from Iraq in restraints on a stretcher to a military hospital in Germany, despite having been given no official diagnosis, according to the documents. A military doctor in Germany ruled he was in stable mental health, according to the documents, but sent him back to the United States for what the soldier recalls the doctor describing as his `safety.'
The soldier depicted the evacuation as part of an effort to cover up wrongdoing. But other members of his team denied the allegations, saying that the unit was professional and that they never saw abusive behavior at the facility. Investigators closed the case without filing charges, writing that the investigation `did not identify any witnesses' to the abuse and did not `produce any logical subjects.'"
Posted at 01:57 PM
IT'S A VERY GOOD THING... [Rich Lowry ]
...that Bush is putting so much emphasis on Syrian intelligence getting out of Lebanon:
"President Bush said Friday that `one of the things we really understand is that Syria - Syrian troops, Syria's intelligence services - must get out of Lebanon now.'" It's a sign that we aren't going to settle for a sham pull-out.
Posted at 01:56 PM
"THE STEEPER THE BETTER" [Rich Lowry ]
New York Times quotes Bush at Notre Dame: "Someone said, 'It's a steep hill to climb, Mr. President,' " Mr. Bush said. "Well my attitude is, the steeper the better. Because when you get to the top, you realize you've left a significant contribution behind."
It might seem odd for someone to emphasize so the sheer political difficulty of what they are attempting, but it's a good idea for Bush to talk this way since it accentuates one of his political strengths--the perception that he's a leader with strong convictions who will do what he thinks is right even in the face of adversity. He'll need more than that, of course, to climb this particular hill...
Posted at 01:55 PM
SHIITE COALITION FRACTURES... [Rich Lowry ]
...as was always inevitable. Two points.
1) Welcome to small-d democratic politics, where people play "political games":
"Humam Hamoudi, a senior official in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a powerful member of the Shiite alliance, said the reasons Mr. Muhammadawi and Mr. Yousha gave for their departures were `incredible.'
`I think it's a political game that those two members are playing with Mr. Allawi,' Mr. Hamoudi said. `They want to join in a coalition with him so that if he becomes prime minister, they will get some of the ministries.'"
2) While it is heartening that Iraqis are now engaging in the give-and-take of normal politics, this is beginning to go on too long, as prime minister candidate Jaafari acknolwedges:
"At a lunch with Western reporters inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, Dr. Jaafari acknowledged that the absence of a new government was eroding the confidence of the people.
`There is a question mark from the people because they are not sure what is really going on,' he said. `They have a right that the process should go faster. We think it has been delayed, but we're hoping it will be resolved within a reasonable time and not be delayed further.'"
Posted at 01:51 PM
"IT'S NOT FAIR ... IT'S REPUBLICAN" [Rich Lowry ]
That was the Dem slogan from the Social Security debate circa 1982.
Posted at 01:50 PM
POETIC, LYRICAL F-BOMBS? [Tim Graham]
I know this may be Stuttaford bait, but can Washington Post TV "critic" Tom Shales be any deeper in the tank for HBO than in today's "Deadwood" review? (If I didn't know they were all screaming for some "sophistication" in their TV diet, I would swear the TV writers are all paid under the table the way they swoon over HBO.) Shales is even giddy at the oh-so-realistic constant profanity in the series:
Deadwood" is magnificently gritty in appearance and poetically obscene in language. No one ever says something as simple as "I'm hungry" without a notorious gerund between the first word and the third. But you get used to it, and it actually becomes kind of lyrical.
Posted at 01:49 PM
NICE FAREWELL... [Rich Lowry ]
...to the Public Interest by David Brooks.
Posted at 01:48 PM
"FETUS" FILM [Tim Graham]
A N.Y. Times TV writer calls it "Operation Rescue propaganda" when someone gets to see a sonogram at length.
Posted at 01:47 PM
IRAQIS AGAINST THE INSURGENCY [Rich Lowry]
From the New York Post: "Yesterday, hostility to the insurgency boiled over into bloodshed in Wihda, 25 miles south of Baghdad. Townsmen attacked militants thought to be planning a raid on the town and killed seven of them, police Capt. Hamadi al-Zubeidy reported.
Anger against insurgents is being fed, in part, by a government television campaign. Last week, U.S.-financed Al-Iraqiya TV aired reports showing terrorists calmly talking about how they had beheaded dozens of people, kidnapped others for ransom, and raped women and girls before killing them."
Posted at 01:46 PM
SOUND OFF [John J. Miller]
I love this lead: "David Wells' curveball needs work. His mouth is in midseason form."
Posted at 07:09 AM
Friday, March 04, 2005
ASSAD EXPECTED [K. J. Lopez]
to move troops--out and closer to Syria.
Posted at 10:32 PM
IRAQ, ETC. [Rich Lowry]
Just talked to someone in-the-know about administration Middle East policy. I took a quick tour of the region with him. He warned against giddiness, but says things are definitely heading in the right direction.
He says attacks against Americans in Iraq are ebbing near an all-time low since the insurgency really got going. Attacks against Iraqis, of course, continue unabated. But the public seems to be turning increasingly against the insurgency, especially in Baghdad, partly under the influence of a nightly anti-insurgency television program. We're locking up more of the bad guys, which means we need more prisons (something we should have taken care of a long time ago). Overall we seem to be at--to use a terrible cliche--a potential “tipping point” in Iraq. The elections changed the entire atmosphere, although if the process of choosing a prime minister goes on much longer it will begin to test the patience of the Iraqi public and squander good will.
In Afghanistan, Taliban attacks on both Americans and the government have hit an all-time low.
Of course, events in Lebanon have been stunning. The administration is using every possible lever against the Syrians--pushing them in a serious, serious way. That the Saudis have gotten on board is a sign that they know which way the tide is headed and that it is no longer sustainable to look the other way over an Arab country's occupation of another Arab country. There has been a useful convergence of interests between the US and France over Syria, prompted by Chirac's personal relationship with Hariri and outrage at his assassination.
On Iran, the administration seems to be coming to the conclusion that the EU3 approach will fail one way or another, so it is better if the US is part of the process so it can't be conveninetly blamed when it doesn't work. We may see the administration dangling some carrots Tehran's way. If (when) this doesn't work, perhaps we will apply the lesson we are learning with Syria--pressure works.
In general, people shouldn't be unrealistic. There will still be plenty of bad news in the future. But the tectonic plates have shifted in the Middle East the last few weeks and there's no pushing them back.
Posted at 08:50 PM
MCCARTHY V. PADILLA [K. J. Lopez]
Our bud Andy McCarthy has an op-ed in today's USA Today.
Posted at 08:44 PM
CORNYN V. BYRD, CTD. [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I'm told that Sen. Cornyn did make a point about Byrd's argument about "free speech" on the floor today: "The distinguished senior Senator from West Virginia has been in the Senate a long time. Much of his service he is justly proud of. But one of the dangers of being in the Senate for a long time is that you go on record making statements which have the potential of contradicting one's current statements. Indeed, that has been the case when it comes to the senior Senator from West Virginia.
"For example, the very procedure which he now decries as nuking free speech, he himself championed in 1977, in 1979, in 1980, in 1987. Hardly can it be true that today trying to reinstate majority rule as he himself did on those four occasions on the dates of the years mentioned, hardly can that be nuking free speech. In fairness, he ought to concede what we are doing is nothing radical. Indeed, it is doing the same thing he himself did four times earlier."
Posted at 07:49 PM
OVERBOARD AND OUT TO SEA [Tim Graham]
One way of telling the New York Press has totally gone beyond the pale in publishing a story mocking the eventual death of Pope John Paul: the New York Daily News lines up a set of liberals and Democrats to hail the pope and denounce the paper. Get a load of Hillary!
Posted at 07:36 PM
WASHINGTON UPDATE [Stefan Sharkansky]
The Washington State Republicans released a list yesterday of more than 1,100 people believed to be felons who voted illegally in November 2004. They also released the names of 45 deceased persons in whose names ballots were cast in November. Although it turns out that a few of the felons on the list may in fact have had their voting rights legally restored, the number of suspected illegal felon votes is still many times larger than Christine Gregoire's apparent margin of victory.
Another of today's news items reminds me of the scene in the movie Sea of Love where Al Pacino, playing a New York City detective, rounds up a bunch of warrant fugitives by inviting them to a bogus "Meet the Yankees" breakfast. Officials of the WA state homebuilders association (BIAW) suspected that certain voter affidavits collected by Democratic party activists in November had forged signatures. To entice the voters in question to reveal their signatures for comparison with the affidavits, the BIAW sent them surveys to fill out along with $10 checks as a courtesy payment. A number of the signatures that came back on the endorsed checks are indeed suspiciously dissimilar to the signatures on the affidavits. Naturally, the Democrats are up in arms over this. But where's the outrage that election officials aren't doing their jobs to safeguard the integrity of the voter rolls so that citizens don't have to?
The Rossi campaign believes that the next hearing in the election contest suit will be held on or about March 17, when the judge is expected to schedule the actual trial. The first session of the state legislature could well be over even before the election contest is settled.. A whole raft of legislation could end up being signed into law by a governor who is eventually ruled to be an illegitimate occupier of that office.
Posted at 05:34 PM
HURTING MORE THAN HELPING [K. J. Lopez ]
A quick word about an e-mail that is circulating today in some right-wing circles.
The Republican National Coalition for Life sent out their “weekly e-mail newsletter today about that stem-cell/cloning fight in Massachusetts I might have mentioned once or twice in these parts.
They are absolutely right to say, as they do in their headline, that ”Massachusetts Governor Defends Some Human Embryos--Not Others.” It is factually true. But...right now the statehouse in the Bay State is poised to legalize cloning embryos--so a whole lot more than embryos will be lost if Romney’s opponents win, as the Boston mood suggests they will.
This current fight in Massachusetts is not a) about a Romney presidential bid (it will certainly give him creds of some sort--or not--on a national stage depending on the outcome, but that’s not a reason to attack him while he’s fighting at least part of your fight) or b) about his abortion record. It’s about at least putting an obstacle in the way of some radical and unethical research. Kill the bill (which has a huge emotional advantage), join Romney in at least that, or the whole battle in Massachusetts is lost, and the dominoes continue to fall (there is no federal ban, and Congress isn’t itching to act—though they should, in my humble opinion). I am not embracing Romney’s whole approach (as I’ve made clear), nor would I expect the RNC Coalition for Life to (they shouldn’t, of course), butthis (and one in Massachusetts! for that matter). As a New Yorker who sees lawmakers here anxious to tread into the same kind of research next, I’m increasingly nervous. And I don’t think alerts like the one that went out today help any.
Posted at 05:21 PM
CASEY V. SANTORUM [KJL]
Bob Casey has made his candidacy official, and the Democratic field is clear for him.
Posted at 05:20 PM
GOLDSTEIN V. PONNURU [Shannen Coffin]
Why would Tom Goldstein think Ramesh is trying to discredit Larry Tribe in advance of the coming judicial nomination battles? I'm willing to bet good money -- really good money -- that Larry Tribe isn't going to get nominated!
Posted at 05:17 PM
DOMAINS AND THINGS [K. J. Lopez]
I bet Mr. Goldstein could sell one or two of those domain names to a filibuster rule-change opponent.
By the way, the Ramesh-is-a-partisan-hack thing might be funnier than those Simpsons/King of the Hill Earl Warren jokes from earlier in the week.
I am, however, hoping tomorrow doesn't become a Ponnuru-Goldstein Saturday like that Goldberg-Cole Saturday of a few weeks ago. If it will be, I'll stock up the bar for an early start Saturday.
Posted at 05:14 PM
DOMAIN NAMES [Jonah Goldberg]
Ramesh - you should offer to buy them at pennies on the dollar.
Posted at 04:54 PM
THANKS JONAH [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Btw, Goldstein's posted an update to his last post and promises to say more later. He says he is thinking about getting rid of the domain names now, especially since he thinks there may be a legal question involved. I may regret this later, but let me just say that whatever the laws say--and I know next to nothing about that, not being a brilliant (or any other kind of) lawyer--I'm not going to sue him or press charges against him. Goldstein can make whatever decision he wants about those sites without worrying about that.
Posted at 04:48 PM
RAMESH, GOLDSTEIN, BYRD ETC [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm not going to get in the middle of Ramesh's tussle with this Goldstein guy. But I would like to offer one modest defense raised by Ramesh's post below. The essence of Goldstein's epic broadside against Ramesh is that Ramesh is essentially a partisan hack. Ramesh's attack on Tribe, according to Goldstein, was without merit and therefore Ramesh's only motive could have been to discredit Tribe in advance of the coming judicial nomination battles. Anybody who knows Ramesh understands that this interpretation says far more about Goldstein than it does about Ramesh. But consider the fact that Ramesh is against the so-called nuclear option (as is the magazine). Presumably, if Ramesh were a hired gun for rightwing judges he would have no problem adopting this argument. Indeed, it would be far easier -- and more useful to the cause -- for him to adopt this position then go so far out of his way to go after Larry Tribe.
Anyway, I don't want to get in the crossfire -- and I don't want Goldstein registering all the JonahGoldberg.com domain names either. I just think that arguments about motives are usually silly and for them to be true you have to find a larger pattern of behavior that fits that motive. No one who's read Ramesh over the years could find any such pattern because he's an intellectually honest guy.
Posted at 04:35 PM
HAROLD MEYERSON [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Interesting column on labor infighting. He doesn't go into labor's internal debate about whether to merge small unions into big ones. I'm an outsider, not a well-wisher to the unions (at least as we know them), and not especially knowledgable about the subject--which makes me perfect to sound off on it! Anyway, from my perspective unification and centralization seems to make a lot of sense. Isn't the whole point of unionism to move closer to having a monopoly of labor?
Posted at 04:23 PM
DERB, CRYPTO-SICIALIST [John Derbyshire]
A reader who is shocked, without having done any home wiring work at all: "Derb---Your remarks on social security are as astounding to me as anything you have ever said. Is there really that much of a leap from your slothfulness to endorsing nationalized medicine because you are too lazy to find your own doctor? Nationalized housing because you are too lazy to buy your own house? Nationalized employment because you are too lazy to find your own job? None of this appears to be remotely conservative."
(a) I grew up under nationalized medicine and WE HAD TO FIND OUR OWN DOCTOR. And when we didn't get on with him, we switched. So you aren't necessarily bereft of choice in a nationalized system. However, health care is a big knotty issue that I have never been able to come to firm conclusions about. I really don't see how it can be done without SOME public provision, though I certainly don't want to return to the state socialism of my childhood. (No, not even with the free cod liver oil we used to get.) I am going to wait until Ramesh writes an article on health care before I tell you what I think.
(b) Again, nationalized (at any rate, municipalized) housing worked well for me -- I spent my 3rd to 18th years in it. That was then, however, and this is now. The municipal tenants I grew up among were decent working people. Municipal tenants nowadays are the feckless and hopeless. No, no nationalized housing, thanks.
(c) Nationalized employment? No thanks. I've seen it in action, in Maoist China. Doesn't work. Really, really dumb idea, in fact.
You have to take issues on their merits, see? I am not a libertarian, and in fact have written unkind things about libertarians. There are lots of thing my government can legitimately do to me, and for me. Every one of those things involves a small diminution of my freedom, of course; but that's the price of living in a coherent society. You have to try to think each issue through.
Managing investments is a thing that some people are terrifically keen on and good at, and will do well at, while other people take it as an irritating chore, can't really understand what they are doing, and will get lousy results. (Unless the whole process is regulated to death by the govt., in which case we are back where we started.) It's no use saying: "Well, they should try harder, and get with the program." People are made differently, and you are setting up a competitive system based on particular inclinations and abilities. I don't much mind weakest-to-the-wall among 30-yr-olds, but it seems cruel to me to make life that competitive for 80-yr-olds. Old age should be RESTFUL.
Posted at 04:21 PM
BYRD VS. CORNYN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Cornyn does a fine job of responding to most of Byrd's contentions. (I say this although--not that I wish to re-open this debate!--I side with Byrd and not Cornyn on the question of whether the Senate ought to change the filibuster rules.) It seems to me that the senator is letting Byrd get away with an awfully base-stealing use of the concepts of "free speech" and "dissent."
Supposedly ending filibusters of judges "threatens the rights to dissent, to unlimited debate and to freedom of speech." Because it could lead to the end of filibusters for other measures, ending judicial filibusters "could rob a senator of the right to speak out against an overreaching executive branch or a wrongheaded policy." Ending filibusters "would mute dissent and gag opposition voices." There are several more such references to "freedom of speech."
But of course under any proposed rules change senators would have the right to speak out and to vote as they wish. They would be forced to allow an up-or-down vote where 51 votes prevailed. But if that's an attack on free speech, so is a 60-vote rule. Take the case where 61 senators want to vote to confirm a judge and 39 senators object. Under the current rules, those 61 senators can cut off debate, hold a vote, and prevail. So, on Byrd's account, it would seem that those 39 senators had their rights to freedom of speech trampled on. If 99 senators want to do something and Russ Feingold objects, Byrd's version of freedom of speech would require letting Feingold have his way. Since Byrd is willing to compromise on this idiosyncratic concept of free speech, he ought to explain why his compromise is preferable to Bill Frist's. And merely invoking that concept (repeatedly) can't get him to his preferred conclusion.
Posted at 04:08 PM
SLOTH CONTINUED [Jonah Goldberg]
I thought this point was made, but apparently it wasn't:
Are you and Derb forgetting that the personal accounts being proposed by Pres. Bush are VOLUNTARY? Slothful folks like Derb won't have to take them; they'll still get their SS check every month. To be clear, though, I'm with you, Jonah. Freedom isn't free. Taking care of your own money is a small price to pay for ownership and a smackdown of Leviathan. Eyes on the prize, people! Anyone who has a 401K and "gets it" on an elementary level already understands the basics of these proposed accounts. They'd probably be willing to at least take a look and see how much "work" it would be to manage the SS private account. It sounds like the choice of investments would be much more limited than most 401Ks, anyway, so folks who are only mildly averse to putting forth any effort might still find them palatable.
Posted at 03:54 PM
GENE HEALY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
has a new book, according to Instapundit (and Amazon.com). Cool.
Posted at 03:39 PM
RED STATE CAPS [K. J. Lopez]
If I weren't currently going through my little identity crisis, I'd so be buying some of these.
Posted at 03:20 PM
ONE MORE THING THOUGH [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I can't help but comment on the evolution of Goldstein's rhetorical strategy. First he said (go to rameshponnuru.com and you can follow all the links!) that my article on Tribe was "profoundly silly." (Me, I think that what's silly is the use of that intensifier before "silly.") It was just a profoundly silly article that can't be taken seriously, which is, I guess, why Goldstein has written 17 pages about it--that number is not an exaggeration, by the way--and bought all those websites. When I responded to the "profoundly silly" post, he came back with a post that said that my response had caused his opinion of my levelheadedness to sink. He was writing, you see, more in sorrow than in anger. In the next go-round, he commented that he had never heard of me before my article. I'm a nothing! A nobody!
So let's reconstruct the chronology here. Goldstein had never heard of me. Then he read my article, which both struck him as "profoundly silly" and left him with an impression that I am at least somewhat levelheaded. Then this impression faded away. And now, of course, he is talking about how there have to be "consequences" for all this silliness. This sort of thing certainly played a role in my decision not to match Goldstein page for page.
Okay, that's all (unless Goldstein starts making threats to my puppies). (Note to Goldstein: I don't actually have any puppies. You can scratch that off the to-do list.)
Posted at 03:04 PM
PORTER GOSS... [Rich Lowry ]
...is evidently taking heat for saying that he doesn't quite know what his role is under the new intelligence re-organization. But given how impossibly vague some key language in that law is, of course he's confused about his role. Just another reason not to have rushed to pass that law in the first place. David Ignatius today worries that the law might make things worse--“the new structure may simply add another layer of bureaucracy.”
Posted at 02:54 PM
THIS MEANS BORE! [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Tom Goldstein has another post. The interesting thing about this one is that he announces that he has bought a bunch of websites with my name in them--rameshponnuru.com, etc. Each of these sites will direct people to his posts and to links to my responses. When people enter my name in "Google and various search engines," they will read the stuff at his sites. There have to be "consequences" for my "reputation" and "credibility" after the terrible things I've supposedly done. I don't know that all that many people enter my name in searches, and if they do I suspect they'll be predisposed to take my side of the argument. But anyone who wants to bookmark his pages, be my guest. If Professor Tribe wants to write a letter to National Review, I'll be happy to do a detailed response and everyone will be free to draw their own conclusions. Otherwise, I don't foresee having tons more to say after this series of posts.
I'm still going to pass, that is, on reading and responding in detail to Goldstein's posts, because, as mentioned before, I don't think they're worth my time (or my readers' time). I know that sounds insulting, and obviously I don't mind that it does, but the truth is that there are a lot of posts out there that one doesn't have the time for. A while back I read a post, for example, attacking something I had written about the politics of health care. The post didn't really have much to do with anything I had written. This guy explained that I really knew better than what I had written--I really understood that we needed much more government involvement in health care--but clearly Rich Lowry wouldn't let me say it. I'm not going to waste time responding to posts that foolish. That's my judgment here, too. And while I understand why Goldstein objects to that judgment, I'm standing by it--with one exception, which I'll get to in my next post.
(If Tribe decides not to send a letter, by the way, well, that's his prerogative too. The only difference I can see between his not responding to me and my not responding to Goldstein is that Tribe made a point of telling me he looked forward to refuting my article. I never said anything similar about Goldstein.)
Posted at 02:50 PM
BUSINESS WEEK... [Rich Lowry ]
...hits AARP. All those products it offers apparently aren't such great deals.
Posted at 02:49 PM
WARNING [Michael Ledeen]
Just to keep you awake all weekend, here's a very convincing "wordunheard" analysis of a convincing Michael Scheuer analysis of why Porter Goss was right to worry about an impending terrorist attack on the United States. Enjoy...
Posted at 02:40 PM
1,135 = 129 [Jim Boulet]
Attorneys for Republican Dino Rossi, Washington State's Republican nominee for governor in 2004, have released a list of 1,135 "alleged felons, people who voted twice and dead people" who cast illegal votes in a race which Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes.
Posted at 02:34 PM
THAT'S WHY ... [Jonah Goldberg]
we call you Daredevil Ponnuru!
Posted at 02:26 PM
ENDS AND MEANS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
This conservative will go out on a limb and say that just ends are a necessary but not sufficient condition to justify the means used to achieve them.
Posted at 02:22 PM
"SIGNATURE INJURY" OF THE IRAQ WAR [K. J. Lopez]
Posted at 02:22 PM
SHOULDA COULDA [K. J. Lopez]
I should have checked Snopes.com on Toby.
Posted at 02:18 PM
WOULD THIS MAKE DERB'S CIVILIZATIONAL DECLINE LIST? [K. J. Lopez]
I betcha this dude makes a pretty penny.
Posted at 02:06 PM
I AM SLIGHTLY AMUSED BY MY IN-BOX [K-Lo, from the NYC Hood]
It's either a) blue staters who are defensive that a red-state conservative is picking on a blue state (there are conservatives in NY!! [No, you don't say!]) or b) blue staters making fun of backward red staters like me who make fun of sophisticated blue staters.
It's mildly amusing considering I regularly get e-mail complaining that I am "too New York/northeast."
It's always the throwaways (occasionally also know as -trying-desperately-to-catch-up Friday filler) that mean the most grief. (A few other e-mailers today want to know why I support the mullahs in Iran.(?!!?) Do they not read NRO?)
Posted at 01:56 PM
SIMPSONS SHOCK [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Derb's shock, like many other things, reminds me of a moment from the Simpsons. Homer is baby-proofing the home to protect Maggie. To keep her away from the electric outlets, he draws bunny heads around them. Marge points out that Maggie isn't scared of bunnies. Homer responds, "she will be."
Posted at 12:58 PM
COOL STORY [K. J. Lopez]
Both in Baghdad, a father gets to pin a Silver Star on his son.
Posted at 12:54 PM
WHY NOT JUST THROW HIM A PARADE? [Jonah Goldberg ]
The mastermind of the Bali bombing has received 30 months in jail. This amounts to about 1 week for every murder victim. The Australian public is not amused. Meanwhile the guy's followers are outraged. Belmont Club's Wretchard has got the details.
Posted at 12:50 PM
MILESTONES IN HOME IMPROVEMENT (CONT.) [John Derbyshire]
After many years of adventures in home wiring, I just got only my second ever electric shock.
It's not much -- like being whacked on the funny bone with a wooden mallet.
Back in England, where 240 volts is the domestic norm, you get thrown across the room.
Posted at 12:46 PM
RE: SLOTH [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: After reading Poppa G.'s words of wisdom, I hastily changed out of my bathrobe and slippers.
Posted at 12:33 PM
RE: LOOKING AFTER MY MONEY [John Derbyshire]
I just got a reader email that opened as follows: "Derb---I retired from the Army, and since my retirement have cashed close to $400,000 in retirement checks, and will continue to do so until I die. Meanwhile, it will be another 18 years before I become eligible for Social Security (which I have paid into since Nixon was President), assuming that they don't raise the age to receive benefits in the meantime...."
This agrees with the impression I get from the older people I know. A couple of successful capitalists aside, all the ones most comfortably provided for spent their entire working lives in government service. My Dad was right.
Posted at 12:32 PM
FEC COMMISSIONER BRAD SMITH [K. J. Lopez]
will be on NRANews radio at 4:30 EST talking about McCain-Feingold and the Internet. Jim Geraghty and NRA's Cam Edwards were on this beat, by the way, back in October.
Posted at 12:30 PM
A COMPROMISE FOR THE SLOTHFUL [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Derb, you say you want a government check every month in your old age, but it needn't be much. How about we commit to giving you a check every month that is worth as much, in inflation-adjusted terms, as today's Social Security checks? People who want to get more can try investing some of their payroll tax funds, and people like you can stick with those checks. Deal?
Posted at 12:11 PM
ENDS & MEANS BLEG [Jonah Goldberg ]
I get a lot of email from readers angry with conservatives who (allegedly) argue that the ends justify the means. I also recall that under Clinton, lots of conservatives complained about the same thing.
Having read quite a bit about pre-WWII liberalism, I know that many liberals and progressives used to explicitly endorse the notion that the ends can justify the means and the spirit of ends-justifying-the-means suffuses vast areas of liberal public policy and, often, conservative foreign policy.
Anyway, does anyone know about an essay or book specificly on this concept and the arguments which swirl around it? I think it would make for fascinating intellectual history to trace the concept and its critics throughout Western history. Maybe someone has done that? If so please let me know I would really love to read it.
Posted at 12:08 PM
SLOTH [Jonah Goldberg]
Email from Poppa G:
I think I once emailed you that the epitome of sloth was Oblomov, the hero and title of the mid-19th century novel by Goncharov, a Ruissian classic. Oblomov, a wealthy landowner living in St Petersburg, succumbed to sloth so that he never wore anything but bathrobe and slippers, reclining on his couch and ignoring his friends' supplications to do something about his landed estate, which was falling into ruin. He eventually dies, of course. His slothful life gave rise to the condition known as Oblomovshchina, extreme sloth, and it was used as a metaphor for Russia's indifference to its future, especailly among the upper classes. I find that I am increasingly in the grip of one of the most powerful forces in the universe, inertia.
Posted at 11:59 AM
THE PERILS OF LITIGIOUS AMERICA [Jonah Goldberg ]
Bank essentially sets mans pants on fire and makes him think he's dying but hasn't apologized yet.
Posted at 11:58 AM
GENDER-FREE BATHROOMS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 11:52 AM
RE: LOOKING AFTER MY MONEY [John Derbyshire]
Yet again, I am scandalizing the faithful.
A reader: "Holy Moley, John, didn't you used to work on *Wall Street*?"
Yes I did, for 16 years (1985-2001).
Don't those long years on Wall Street make me more inclined to trust the securities trading, investment banking and mutual-funds industries with my savings? No.
On reflection, make that "Hell, no!"
Posted at 11:47 AM
RE: BLUE-STATE MOMENTS [K. J. Lopez]
Ok, so there was Lot and his daughters. And some Greeks have been in that neighborhood. The red states and ancients and folks are no better than us red staters then!
Very badly-thought-out thread will sink in the East River now (and I'll call it a day--or siesta).
Posted at 11:42 AM
AMERICA, THE LIBERATOR [K. J. Lopez]
Michael Kelly, February 26, 2003: "Tyranny truly is a horror: an immense, endlessly bloody, endlessly painful, endlessly varied, endless crime against not humanity in the abstract but a lot of humans in the flesh. It is, as Orwell wrote, a jackboot forever stomping on a human face.
"I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications of, America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?"
Posted at 10:55 AM
BLUE-STATE MOMENTS [K. J. Lopez]
Last night, in the Bryant Park area in Manhattan, I overheard a conversation between what were obviously two playwrights. What got my attention: "You know the section where the girl has sex with her father?"
Where else but New York or L.A?
Posted at 10:52 AM
THE ARGUMENT FROM SLOTH [Jonah Goldberg]
Derb -- Again, I have considerable respect for the argument from sloth but, a few objections:
* as you intimate, the argument from sloth overlaps mightily with the argument from stupidity and/or ignorance; "I'm too stupid to figure out what to do with my money" is very close to "I'm too lazy to figure it out."
* if conservatives are willing to concede that Americans are too stupid to take care of themselves when it comes to providing for their future then we've really redefined basic economic conservative dogma.
* Just because the government system is "easier" now doesn't mean the private sector-and-government couldn't make a more privatized system easier still.
* sloth for me is not an argument for sloth for thee. By what right can a lazy person say other non-lazy people must have big chunks of their money taken from them for an absolutely terrible retirement plan?
* similarly saying government policies for everyone should be shaped around your own personal preferences and personal tastes is vaguely immoral and never strong argumentation. If you believe that the system should be flexible to your priorities you should favor a more privatized system rather than a one-size-fits all approach. Make room for the industrious individualists and thrifty savers as well as the sloths rather than say everyone must work within the slothful system.
Posted at 10:44 AM
GIVING IRANIANS A HAND [K. J. Lopez]
In today's LATimes:
The Bush administration is considering a more aggressive effort to foster opposition inside Iran and seeking ways to use a new $3-million fund to support activists without exposing them to the risk of arrest.
Posted at 10:37 AM
THIS IS REALLY A JOB FOR ADLER... [K. J. Lopez]
...and I know nothing about the man and this might be totally unfair, but reading the president's nomination speech for Stephen Johnson for EPA...well, ugh: "I'm proud to ask him to become the first career EPA employee to hold the office of Administrator, and I'm glad he's agreed to do so."
Posted at 10:28 AM
LOOKING AFTER MY MONEY [John Derbyshire]
Well, yes, I did argue that the problem with SoSec privatization is that we shall be saddled with a chore -- managing our investments -- just at an age when we feel we've had enough of chores.
This is really an argument from sloth, of course. Human beings *are* slothful, though, and are indeed surprisingly willing to pay the price of sloth, and other deadly sins. In a democracy, this needs to be taken into account.
I should look better, and have a better life expectancy, if I worked out every day on that contraption in my basement, the one I bought in a spasm of guilt about the poor shape of my body. I can't be bothered, though. I am just much more interested in other things, and there are only 24 hours in a day. I do my share of righteous chores: Home maintenance, help kids with homework (and currently an elaborate science project) & chauffeur them to music lessons, boxing lessons, summer sports, etc., help out elderly neighbors, listen to friends' miseries, etc. I just find physical exercise boring; and managing finances, too.
The obvious response is: Well, people of your kidney will get flabby/be poor in old age. To which the only thing I can think of to say is: I'm fine with it. I don't have expensive tastes anyway. The prospect of spending my dotage at the golf club with a bunch of other grumbling old dotards appalls me. I don't want to spend my old age traveling -- I did all that in my 20s. I'll just stay home and play computer games. Leave money to my kids? Why? It'd only spoil them. Nobody left me anything. I certainly don't want to spend my twilight years trying to remember the difference between a value fund and a growth fund. I never can, and friends have been trying to explain it to me for 20 years. I'm just not interested in that stuff, and don't want to be forced to be.
It would be a shame, though, if people like me -- and we are legion! -- were to actually starve in old age. Let's have a gummint check once a month. It needn't be much; just enough to keep us in computer games. OK?
Posted at 10:25 AM
DECIPHER: TRIHS T RN EERF [Jack Fowler]
How smart you are! Of course – “FREE NR T SHIRT,” which is what we’ll send you when you order a copy of STET, Damnit! The Misanthrope’s Corner, 1991 to 2002, the complete, unabridged collection of Florence King’s rip-roaring NR columns. We’ll ship this sacred cow-tipping, 500-plus page hardcover to you wrapped in a free NR Tee shirt (made from 100% pre-shrunk “heavyweight” white cotton)! in your size (S through XXL). Limit one shirt per order. And speaking of limits, this offer is available only for a limited time. So get a move on, and order your book here.
Posted at 10:24 AM
TIMEWASTER [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 10:20 AM
SINGULAR, PLURAL, AGGREGATIVE [John Derbyshire]
"Mr. Derbyshire---For years I have wondered whether the noun referring to my favorite breakfast food--grits--is singular or plural. ('Grits is good for you' vs. 'Grits are good for you.') Now you may have provided me with the solution. Is 'grits' in fact aggregative? Same for 'suds'? Or does the 's' at the end of these nouns make them plurals? One could argue, I suppose, that 'grits' is just the plural of 'grit' (though you'd have a hard time separating a single 'grit' from a bowl of them). But is it really possible to isolate a single 'sud'?"
Thank you, Sir. I live but to serve.
These are deep matters we are opening up here, though. For example: English has an historical tendency to turn nouns of the aggregative type (sand, rice, grass, paper, water) into ordinary singular/plural nouns when it can get away with it. This especially happens when the aggregative noun has the misfortune to end in an "s" or "z" sound, making it *sound* like a plural. Then a new word emerges, and you no longer have to say "a grain of..." or "a blade of..."
This happened with "pease," once a simple aggregative. Until (I think -- I am away from my reference books) the 18th century, there was no such thing as a pea. I believe the same thing happened with "cherry."
Posted at 10:17 AM
BYRD ON THE POST OP-ED PAGE [K. J. Lopez]
Senator Cornyn's office has a response.
Posted at 10:00 AM
DAVID BRADFORD, RIP [Jonah Goldberg ]
He was one of the world's greatest experts on taxation. I only new him from around the hallways of AEI when I used to work there. He was one of those important people who doesn't realize it and likes to chat with anybody they find interesting. I doubt he would have remembered me, but he was just a decent, good guy. Anyway, I learned earlier this week that he died recently from burn injuries. Just tragic. Rest in peace.
Posted at 09:57 AM
WHAT HAVE THE AMERICANS EVER DONE FOR US? [Jonah Goldberg]
Gerard Baker's got a good column. Here's the opener:
ONE OF MY favourite cinematic moments is the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when Reg, aka John Cleese, the leader of the People’s Front of Judea, is trying to whip up anti-Roman sentiment among his team of slightly hesitant commandos.
Posted at 09:48 AM
THE OUTLIER [Jonah Goldberg ]
Some readers may remember a long column I did on how Pragmatic liberalism has evolved into an obsession with the cultural and social outliers rather than the reasonable man. I wrote:
Anyway, here's a good example of what I'm talking about From the New York Times:
SAN FRANCISCO - Political epiphanies can occur in unexpected places. For Riki Dennis, a 35-year-old humanities student who is transsexual, it was the women's room at a rest stop on Highway 101 north of Santa Barbara.
Posted at 09:45 AM
GOTTA TUNE INTO SATURDAY'S NPR [Jonah Goldberg ]
To see if Dan Schorr had burst into flames after he wrote this column. The last line about Bush and the "Iraq Effect": "He may have had it right."
Note: Stoopid typo fixed. Shouldn't have been posting pre-coffee.
Posted at 08:34 AM
GEOGHEGAN VS SWALLOW [Jonah Goldberg]
(Sorry for continuing a thread from yesterday that probably doesn't deserve it)
I just saw Ramesh's partial defense of Geohegan's laziness. I certainly agree that Swallow was too hard on him. Indeed, I recall that Derb made a somewhat similar argument against reform on much the same grounds. Nevertheless, as a general principle I think this is a terrible line of argument for conservatives to endorse -- save to ratify the mere fact that it does in fact exist and therefore needs to dealt with.
How are conservatives going to possibly make any headway about the need for smaller government and more individual responsibility if we're prepared to stipulate that it's a respectable position to be too slothful to keep your own money and hand-it-down to your children. I mean we're not talking about voluntarism in local soup kitchens to replace government programs, we're talking about being interested in how their own money is allocated -- for them.
Posted at 08:31 AM
RATHER'S LEGACY [Tim Graham]
Some might say the Dan Rather Era is already over at CBS News, so why are conservatives still bashing him? First, we're going to see a lot of people (for example, former New York Times man Alex Jones in USA Today) insisting that this one eensy-weensy fraud last September shouldn't sully Dan's reputation for journalistic excellence. It's important to note his record is, on the whole, a persistent set of liberal screeds transparently aimed at damaging Republicans in the public opinion polls. Look no further than what he's been doing this week.
Rather led Wednesday's CBS Evening News by touting their latest CBS/NY Times poll which found many opposed to President Bush's Social Security reform plan and how a majority "say they would support raising the amount of wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes." CBS ignored Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's latest comments in favor of private accounts, but denigrated the small conservative group USA Next with an almost-never-seen anti-AARP ad. Rather asked John Roberts: "Are there or are there not signs that this fight is going down the slime, smear, nasty road?" Sure. They could call it Dan Rather Boulevard.
Posted at 08:18 AM
“SCIENCE DOES NOT HAVE TO KILL IN ORDER TO CURE.” [ K. J. Lopez ]
Four Catholic bishops in Massachusetts issue a statement opposing the stem-cell bill the governor there has been fighting.
Posted at 08:14 AM
AT LEAST THEY KNOW IT’S AN AMNESTY [Mark Krikorian ]
A new survey of Mexican illegal aliens finds that although nearly 70 percent said they’d sign up for the president’s “temporary” worker program, almost as many also said that they intend to stay in the United States for as long as they can get away with it. Which Mexican workers does the president think will go home when the “temporary” visas expire?
Posted at 07:01 AM
"MEMBER, FIGHTER, RECRUITER AND FUND-RAISER FOR HEZBOLLAH" [Mark Krikorian ]
So much for the fairy tale that no terrorist has snuck across the Mexican border.
Posted at 06:58 AM
JOSE PADILLA & ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN [K. J. Lopez]
Two names I never thought I'd read in the same op-ed.
Posted at 06:12 AM
Thursday, March 03, 2005
ABDUL KAREEM AL KHAIWANY [Michael Ledeen]
Before you do anything else, go to armiesofliberation.com and read the letter from Abdul Kareem Al Khaiwany from his cell in the Central Prison in Sana’a, Yemen. Then join me in signing the letter to that country's president, asking for the release of a brave journalist who has been found guilty of free speech.
Then say a prayer of gratitude for Jane Novack, the feisty housewife who has called the world's attention to this case.
Posted at 09:33 PM
GOLDSTEIN'S BACK [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Skimming again, he seems to be mostly restating claims from previous rounds. His big new point seems to be that since I haven't bothered rebutting his long attack on my article I must be tacitly conceding its truth. This is a very common move in arguments, and sometimes it's even true. But it really is the case that I haven't read his rebuttal. It really is the case that I don't think it's worth my time, based on the incompetence of the passages I have looked over. If Goldstein now decides to produce a book on this whole affair, he can be my guest. But I'm not going to go through it in detail--unless, perhaps, he collaborates with someone smarter.
Posted at 06:42 PM
I'D WONDER HOW THE OMBUDSMAN WOULD RULE [K. J. Lopez]
on deliberate mistakes, but I know better.
Posted at 06:20 PM
ROOM 101 [John Derbyshire]
If you try to make me go into the ladies room I shall QUIT! Taking my Ann Coulter doll with me.
There are some things no man should have to do.
Posted at 06:15 PM
RE: POP CULTURE IS... [John Derbyshire]
I knew it was Frankie Lymon and the teenagers. I just wanted to lure Mark Steyn out of his cave up there on the Androscoggin. And it worked!
(In the UK the number was covered by... who? Laurie London, I think. I bet Mark knows... no, he's gone back into the cave.)
In another deliberate mistake, I earlier said "open set" when of course I meant "closed set." Pretty much any function fails to attain its supremum on an open set.
Posted at 06:15 PM
GEOGHEGAN VS SWALLOW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Thanks for the link, Jonah. I think Swallow's a little too hard on Geoghegan's retreat from the burden of choice. A lot of people feel that way about a lot of areas of life. It's a problem that proponents of market-based reforms of education and health care also face. But markets, especially well-structured ones, often incorporate a lot of mental-labor-saving devices. Investing in broad index funds is easier than picking individual stocks; not participating in personal accounts (which most reformers say should be an option) is easier than participating in them; trusting other parties with good reputations for telling you what to purchase is easier than trying to reach your own judgments; relying on other people's research about which schools in an area are best is easier than doing that research yourself; knowing someone diligent in the neighborhood who has looked that stuff up is easier than doing even that yourself; etc. Geoghegan's fault (I'm basing this on Swallow's excerpts) is not taking account of any such shortcuts.
Posted at 06:08 PM
KOS & WOLCOTT [Cliff May]
I know Jonah has written in response to recent grumbling from KOS and James Wolcott, two spokesmen for the post-humanitarian, post-democratic, neo-Buchananite left. Apparently, they are devastated by the fact that Afghan girls can go to school, that Iraqis can vote, that Lebanese are demonstrating for freedom, that Egyptians may get a fair election, etc. And, most upsetting for them, President Bush could be partly responsible for these revolting developments -- at least that’s what their erstwhile allies are suggesting in what used to be reliable publications such as the Guardian and L’Express.
Now Kos & Wolcott also are up in arms – well, figuratively anyway – because, as they see it, those wild-eyed neo-cons are saying nasty things about Hezbollah. And Hezbollah, they believe, isn’t so bad – it’s only interested in killing Israelis, so what’s the big deal?
Apparently, they are ignorant of the fact that until 9/11, Hezbolllah (backed by Syria and Iran) had killed more Americans than any other terrorist organization -- more than 250 Americans, in fact, including Marines, diplomats and CIA officers.
But if they don’t know any of this, it’s not my job to tell them.
Kos is here and Wolcott is here.
Posted at 06:04 PM
DEMOCRATS VS. BLOGS? [K. J. Lopez]
Sometimes NRO writer Andrew Leigh e-mails:
Bradley Smith's warning that the FEC may extend McCain-Feingold speech restrictions to the blogosphere, linked to earlier by Kathryn, reinforces a point made by Jonah: far from welcoming the rise of the blogosphere, Democrats view it as yet another burgeoning threat to their media monopoly.
Posted at 06:01 PM
"BACK-DOOR PRIVATIZATION" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Noam Scheiber of the New Republic is worried that Bush might win with a compromise proposal that creates "add-on" accounts. After a few years, he warns, Republicans will propose letting people put their payroll taxes into these accounts. The Bush plan will triumph on the installment plan. As Scheiber notes, Paul Krugman has the same fear.
It seems to me that the underlying logic of the Scheiber-Krugman position is to oppose IRAs and 401(k)s, or at least to oppose any increase in the number of people who have them. The more people have them, and the more experience people have with them, the easier it will be for Republicans to propose letting people deposit payroll-tax money into them. Scheiber needs to worry more about the possibility that people will become fonder of investing their own money and less about the particular mechanisms by which this happens.
As for the political likelihood of this scenario unfolding, I'd say it's up in the air. I think it would be hard for Democrats to oppose add-on accounts, especially if they were targeted at the poor. That was a Democratic idea from the start. The bigger problem would be getting Republicans to support the idea. I'm for it, but my view is not prevalent among Republicans.
One thing I find interesting about the debate is that many Republicans support personal accounts because of what one might call a dynamic analysis of the politics of the investor class. But they haven't incorporated that analysis into their personal-account strategy. By all means, for example, conservatives should try to make sure to make the maximum size of the account as high as possible. But if the whole underlying political theory is correct, then we have reason to think that whatever number we start with, we'll end up with a higher number over the long run.
So to with "add on" accounts. To conservatives who say that they would "do nothing to solve Social Security's fiscal problem," I would respond that that's the case only if we assume that expansions of the new investor class don't have salutary political effects--which, again, is the theory that most of these same people hold (or think they hold).
There are good reasons for conservatives to prefer personal accounts "carved out" of Social Security to "add-on" accounts, but ultimately I'm for almost anything that expands the number of people in the markets and the extent of their involvement. (And Scheiber ought to be opposed to anything that does those things.) But if a passable deal required a majority of Republicans to come around to that position, it's an open question whether it would happen.
Posted at 05:59 PM
DERB AND POP CULTURE [Mark Steyn]
"No no no no no no no no no no no no I'm not a juvenile delinquent" is not Little Anthony and the Imperials. It was Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
I have lost all faith in Derb. I've been taking his word on all that Farrakhanesque numerological stuff, but never glad confident morning again.
("Glad Confident Morning Again" was, of course, a hit for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.)
Incidentally, I'm all for pedantry, but there are many respectable precedents for L'il Kim: L'il Abner, for example. It's thinking like this that led the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to call itself the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. No wonder it requires federal subsidy.
Posted at 05:56 PM
A FINE WHINE [Jonah Goldberg ]
Thomas Geoghegan admits over at Slate that the main reason he doesn't like the idea of private accounts is that he's too lazy to deal with saving his own money. Ian Swallow is disgusted.
Posted at 05:39 PM
MCCAIN-FEINGOLD IN THE BLOGOSPHERE [K. J. Lopez]
A reader makes a good point: ,
This could be a good thing. Unleash all bloggers on the idiocy of McCain-Feingold and the FEC.Looks like it is well underway.
Posted at 05:36 PM
L'IL KIM [K. J. Lopez]
Derb wouldn't know this, but there has been an ad for her "new" CD for about two years now (or more?) in the NRNY ladies' room. But we share our digs with Loud Records and Spin magazine, so...there are ways to educate the Derb.
Posted at 05:25 PM
POP CULTURE IS... [John Derbyshire]
...a mystery to me. Who is Li'l Kim? And why can't she spell out "little" in full? It was good enough for Little Richard (Awop bop aloobop alop bam boom), Little Anthony and the Imperials (No no no no no no no no, No no no no no no no no, No no no-o, I'm not a juvenile delinquent), and numerous other, er, giants of the era when POP MUSIC WAS WORTH LISTENING TO.
Posted at 05:21 PM
WINDFALLS FOR WALL STREET? [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Not according to factcheck.org.
Posted at 05:21 PM
RE: THE SHEEN-RICHARDS SPLIT [K. J. Lopez]
I just point this out: "Richards, 34, who is six months pregnant, filed divorce papers in Los Angeles on Wednesday and asked for custody of the couple's year-old daughter as well as the baby she is expecting with Sheen. "
Posted at 05:01 PM
FIRST IT WAS BRAD AND JEN (WHO I STILL HAVE HOPE FOR) [K. J. Lopez]
Now the president's son, Charlie Sheen, is headed for splitsville. Is there no hope for true love on the Left Coast?
Posted at 04:50 PM
MYERS [K. J. Lopez ]
Why are conservative folk not breaking their backs for Bill Myers?, Jeffrey Dubner at The American Prospect asks. I refer you to The Volokh Conspiracy for one right-wing take on the nominee.
I take issue with the argument, made on TAPPED, that folks like me are not talking about Myers because his nomination doesn’t have an abortion/religious rallying cry to latch onto. Pryor is talked about more because he is so obviously qualified. That’s argument #1 against the Democratic filibuster, before you even get to focus in on his views on abortion, the fact he (say it ain’t so!) prays, etc. I thought Chairman Specter—and I think I’ve said this here before—should have brought Pryor up first this session, because the stonewall on his nomination is so blatantly wrong. You can’t necessarily make the same solid case for Myers, as TVC explains.
On the abortion thing, too, I should note I don’t think I even know what Miguel Estrada’s abortion views are. That wasn’t an issue in his nomination fight, but NRO was all over it.
Posted at 04:40 PM
PBS: "PREPOSTEROUS RELIC" [Tim Graham]
Columnist George Will eloquently argues for the obvious today: "In today's 500-channel environment, public television is a preposterous relic." Read the whole thing. I would only quibble with his conclusion, which talks about "the 15 percent of its revenue it gets from government." PBS gets about 15 percent of its revenues from the federal government, but another 30 percent or more from state and local governments. It's more "public" than PBS lets on.
Conservatives marched up this hill with passion in 1995 and 1996, charging that PBS was irrelevant and counting on Newt Gingrich's pledge to zero it out. The case Will makes (and the most compelling one he doesn't flesh out, that the federal government shouldn't be in the business of aiding the Democrats with 60-minute liberal commercials, er, documentaries) is more relevant today than ever. But the political reality is that for conservative legislators, cutting PBS is a high-pain, low-gain proposition. Its budget number is way smaller than the heat generated by the liberal lobbies that you're against Big Bird, "Baseball," and education and sophistication in general.
So I confess I'm completely puzzled with what has happened here: the New York Times and other liberal organs seem to be the ones starting the fight for PBS privatization. I'm guessing they want to add this to their theoretical playhouse to go with Armstrong Williams and Gannon-Guckert: once again, the conservatives want to fund only the journalists that support them. Suffice it to say that by this logic, Bill Moyers and Jim Lehrer and Nina Totenberg make Armstrong Williams look like a piker.
Posted at 04:23 PM
TIMEWASTER [Jonah Goldberg]
Personally I've never been a fan of this one. But about once a week someone sends it to me as a candidate for posting. I am but a servant of the people. So here ya go.
Posted at 04:22 PM
SANTORUM ON SOCIAL SECURITY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Just participated in a press/"opinion leader" conference call with the senator. Some highlights:
1. The senator wants personal accounts--and he's against any bill that doesn't have them. “I will not vote for it, and it will not get out of the United States Senate.”
2. On the Democratic line that there's no major problem: "Even among seniors, it's not working."
3. In response to a question about falling poll numbers for personal accounts, Santorum says that the president has not been making the case for them over the last two weeks--although he says that is starting to change. We knew the other side would be "armed and dangerous."
4. He thinks the argument has to be about "retirement security," not about the program's "solvency" or "trust fund," which is "green-eyeshade talk."
5. Democrats are happy to talk about raising the payroll-tax cap because "that's a safe field for them." That's all they're talking about.
6. Santorum did not seem to find the idea of raising the payroll-tax cap and lowering the rate appealing. Since the two policies would counteract each other in terms of revenue, he didn't see the point. [But wouldn't the question be whether the combination won some Democratic votes?--RP]
7. Greenspan was "tremendously helpful."
8. Santorum is "happy to campaign on this in 2006" if it comes to that--even in the second-most senior-heavy state in the country.
Posted at 03:47 PM
TREKUNITED [K. J. Lopez]
Chances are, this donor saving Enterprise is an NRO reader. Show me (and by extension the wide world of NR) the money.
Posted at 03:46 PM
I KNEW HIM WHEN... [K. J. Lopez]
Former NR intern Ross Douthat gets a nice profile in the NY Observer this week, to coincide with the release of his new book.
And, Jonah: He's been a ninja.
Posted at 03:35 PM
THE OMBUDSMAN UNDER SIEGE [John Derbyshire]
Oh, blimey. I should know better by now. Poke fun at the President, confound the Congress, scoff at SCOTUS, and all that comes in is a tired trickle of emails. Make some pronouncement about grammar, usage, or pronunciation, and the floodgates open.
I'll admit I am out on a limb here. My position on things like the plural of "maximum" is strongly anglocentric. If we have accepted a word into our language, I say we are entitled to do what we like with it, including forming its inflections in the regular English style. If we have not yet accepted it into our language, or are in doubt on the matter, we should print it in italics.
But then, I still call Ligorno "Leghorn." I'm a **conservative**, for crying out loud. Doctor Johnson referred to the King of France as "Lewis," and I am with Johnson on this, and indeed on everything.
[I am not even as conservative as a friend of mine, a Kennedy-hater who still calls New York's main airport "Idlewild."]
Posted at 03:27 PM
THE OMBUDSMAN RULES [John Derbyshire]
From a reader who is, natch, a federal employee: "Dear Derb---'Maximums'? Is that right? Not 'maxima'?"
The plural of the English word "maximum" is "maximums." The plural of the Latin word "maximum" is "maxima."
How can you tell if the Latin word or the English one is in play? If it's the Latin word, it ought to be initalics, like any other foreign word. Since my usage was not in italics, "maximums" is correct.
And please don't get me started on "data."
(BTW -- this is regular Derb; I have set down my Ombuds-baton -- In early-modern math texts, data were "the things given," while "the things sought" were quaesita. "Data" came into English (where it is neither singular not plural, but aggregative, like "rice," "grass," or "sand"). "Quaesita," however, did not. Why not? We have to fall back on phrases like "the unknown quantities." Just a thought.)
Posted at 02:06 PM
SAUDIS [K. J. Lopez]
tell Syria to get out of Lebanon.
Posted at 01:53 PM
PRIMETIME WARRIOR [K. J. Lopez ]
I’m told that last night on The Amazing Race, one of the contestants, Ron Young, a former POW in Iraq, announced that if he wins, he will give his prize money to disabled vets. I’ve never watched the show, but I’m for his team!
Hopefully he does better than the last reality-TV contestant we showed an interest in (also a military man).
Posted at 01:20 PM
CAN TOM GOLDSTEIN READ? [Ramesh Ponnuru]
After I responded to his attack on me, calling it slippery and dishonest, Goldstein issued two responses--one in the comments section of his original post and one new 9-page (!) post. Goldstein says his "personal opinion" of my "levelheadedness was higher" before I responded to him on the Corner. Looking back on it, I do regret the "slippery and dishonest" comment. It's incomplete! Goldstein is also rock-dumb.
I'm not going to produce a 15-page response to go through every error Goldstein no doubt makes. I've only read a third of his endless commentary and skimmed the rest. But that's enough for me to see that there's no point in reading the whole thing thoroughly to see if he's made any valid criticisms of me. Let me select two easy-to-explain examples of the quality of thinking (and reading) we're dealing with here.
1) Goldstein alleged that my article was an attempt to weaken Tribe in advance of a confirmation fight over Rehnquist's replacement. I noted, a bit sardonically, that this alleged motivation of mine required me to believe that no other liberal law professors would step forward to play Tribe's role in such a fight. In other words, Goldstein's account of my motivation made no sense. Goldstein, totally missing the point, now writes this in his comments section: "[Ponnuru's] hyperbole does run a little wild with the idea that my post suggested that Tribe was the only person who would oppose Bush's nominees."
2) My article, you'll recall, concerned Tribe's 2003 claim to have made a daring Ninth Amendment argument to the Supreme Court in 1980, even though he faced pressure from the establishment not to make it. I went through evidence showing that Tribe didn't do any such thing, while plenty of other lawyers did. At one point in my article, I compared Tribe's brief to the Court with other briefs, noting that those other briefs made much more extensive Ninth Amendment arguments than Tribe did. I therefore noted some of the points those other briefs mentioned and Tribe's did not.
For Goldstein, this portion of my article "just represents Ponnuru's view that he knows better than Tribe how to argue a constitutional law case in the Supreme Court." He then expands on this idea: "If you believe that, then by nature you're going to believe inconsolably that Ponnuru is right about all of this and Tribe is wrong. (Tribe did win the case, incidentally.)" First of all, re "inconsolably": I do not think that word means what Goldstein thinks it means. Second--and Goldstein should read this next passage slowly: Obviously I'm not saying that Tribe made a mistake in how he argued his case before the Supreme Court. He told me, in a comment I quote in the article, that he had figured out a way to argue the case before the Supreme Court without invoking the Ninth Amendment. That, he said, was the wisest thing to do given the prevailing view of the Ninth Amendment. I'm not at all second-guessing that judgment. Listening to the counsels of prudence may have been the right thing to do! But having done that, don't go around saying how you bravely ignored those counsels. The problem isn't with how Tribe argued the case, but with how he later misrepresented what he had done.
It's also worth noting that Goldstein's zeal leads him to make arguments for Tribe that Tribe has already cut off! Goldstein advances a cockamamie argument that Tribe was trying to talk about the Ninth Amendment at the Supreme Court but was cut off. But this means we now have three different stories. Tribe's 2003 article reaches its focal point with what he "dared to say" at the Supreme Court (not what he had daringly tried to say but wasn't quite able to say). In a 2005 interview with me, Tribe said he had figured out how to make the argument without invoking the Ninth Amendment. And then there's Goldstein's theory.
Goldstein keeps saying that he never "talked" to Tribe before writing these comments. Let's hope Tribe comes up with something better when he gets around to refuting my article, as he has promised to do.
Posted at 01:09 PM
THEY FOUND THE BTK KILLER VIA MEDICAL RECORDS [K. J. Lopez ]
There is a very interesting piece in the Wichita Eagle today: “Investigators -- trying to hide from Dennis Rader that they were zeroing in on him as a BTK suspect -- obtained DNA before his arrest through a tissue sample linked to his daughter's medical records, sources say.” Interesting, most especially, in light of the outrage over the Kansas attorney general trying to obtain medical records from abortion clinics in seeking to prosecute crimes.
Posted at 01:02 PM
HIGHLARIOUS [Jonah Goldberg]
This has been making the rounds. I kept meaning to post it. Allegedly it's a real voicemail. Definitely worth listening to if you can. It's PG rated at worst, for those concerned.
Posted at 12:40 PM
EVEN IF BUSH HAD A HAND IN IT, IT CAN STILL BE GOOD... [K. J. Lopez]
A Guardian columnist: "Put starkly, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it. Sometimes your enemy's enemy is not your friend. "
Posted at 12:32 PM
"CASTING ERROR AT ABC" [K. J. Lopez]
Roger Simon's thinking Condi too.
Posted at 12:18 PM
END OF CIVILIZATION PART 9,099,876,033 [John Derbyshire]
That Jada Pinkett Smith incident at Harvard K-Lo linked to yesterday.
Posted at 12:11 PM
IRAQIS TAKE BACK MOSUL [Jonah Goldberg ]
Now this is an encouraging story. I won't hold my breath for applause from Ted Kennedy.
Iraqi troops have spread their control over Mosul, according to Interior Minister Falah al-Naqeeb.
Nod to: S.A. Express-News Watch
Posted at 12:09 PM
MILESTONES IN HOME IMPROVEMENT [John Derbyshire]
I have wired up a 4-way switch.
Posted at 12:09 PM
MEANWHILE, OVER ON THE LOONEY LEFT... [K. J. Lopez]
Pat Leahy on Bill Pryor on Pacifica yesterday:
Mr. Pryor was sent up -- actually he's on the bench now, because he was given a recessed appointment. He was sent up, and it was made very, very clear, he was there simply as a symbol. He's a nice enough person. I have met him. He's a pleasant person and all of that, but sent as a symbol and packaged by the White House in a way that we want to have a symbolic ideological position on this independent court. I mean, that almost guaranteed there would be opposition. We'll go back now. He has been on the court for a few months. We'll go and look at the decisions he has written since he's been there.If Leahy's in the mood to be honest (okay, what am I thinking?!), Pryor's record is not going to be an easy rally cry for a fillibuster. (Even Nan Aron was stretching trying to get outraged over it.)
Posted at 12:06 PM
SOCIAL SECURITY: THE WH STRATEGY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Judging from interviews (mostly with people outside the administration but very close to it) and observation of its behavior, the strategy is clearly to approach the issue step-by-step. The first step is to persuade the public that the program has a serious problem. Once the public gets there, the next step will be to persuade it that Bush's reform is superior to alternatives such as raising taxes. Top Republican officials say that they think that the first step is actually going quite well. Their reading of the polls has the public thinking that the problem is serious, the issue at the top of the national agenda, and the Republican disadvantage on the who-do-you-trust-to-deal-with-the-issue question shrinking. They also think that the Democratic no-crisis line has softened, especially over the last week.
Bush and his top aides have steadier nerves than most Republicans do. They demonstrated that during the 2004 campaign. I'm inclined to believe that they really are confident right now, and not just putting on a show--which doesn't, of course, mean that their confidence will turn out to have been warranted when this is all over.
For an analysis that I think tracks quite closely with what I'm hearing from the administration, check out Patrick Ruffini's blog.
Posted at 12:04 PM
FREE NR T-SHIRT! [Jack Fowler]
Buy a copy of Florence King’s STET, Damnit! – the complete collection of her revered Misanthrope’s Corner columns which ran in NR from 1991 to 2002 – and we’ll ship this sacred cow-tipping, 500-plus page hardcover to you wrapped in a free NR Tee shirt (made from 100% pre-shrunk heavyweight” white cotton)! It’s a great deal: We usually sell these beauts for $14.95. And you’ll get it in your size (S through XXL). Limit one shirt per order. And speaking of limits, this offer is available only for a limited time. SO get a move on, and order your book here.
Posted at 11:57 AM
NO MILLION-DOLLAR BABY [K. J. Lopez]
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals court on Tuesday awarded $350,000 in attorney's fees to a former Duke University woman football kicker who had won a $2 million judgment from the school and then lost it on appeal.
Posted at 11:40 AM
TERMS OF ART [John Derbyshire]
Several readers: "What's with this 'supremum' and 'infimum' stuff? Why can't you say 'maximum' and 'minimum,' like a normal human being?"
Answer: Because they are different things. The set of all real numbers less than 1 has a supremum, but no maximum. That function of mine has lots of maximums -- an infinity of them, in fact! -- and it also has a supremum; but none of the maximums is equal to the supremum. That's the point.
I really must start those pop quizzes...
Posted at 11:36 AM
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM [K. J. Lopez]
is coming to the blogosphere, Bradley Smith warns.
Posted at 11:19 AM
LOST IN TRANSLATION [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
The Die Welt article got me thinking about translation software. Here is what just three successive translations effected by Google will do:
Posted at 11:18 AM
END OF CIVILIZATION PART 9,099,876,032.B [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 11:13 AM
WHY IS BILL PRYOR BEING FILIBUSTERED? [K. J. Lopez]
Excellent question; Quin Hillyer asks. And, as he explains, it's a bipartisan question back home in Alabama.
Posted at 11:07 AM
LESSONS FROM THE '96 CAMPAIGN [John Derbyshire]
Every time a politician mentions "cloture," he loses 100,000 votes.
You better hope some similar rule doesn't apply to blog readership...
Posted at 11:05 AM
RE: PRESIDENT GEENA [K. J. Lopez]
Prediction: "Women's groups" (like the White House Project sisters) are more psyched about that show than about W's women...
Nevermind the likes of Afghanistan electing women...
Posted at 10:59 AM
REAL ULTIMATE POWER [Jonah Goldberg]
I linked to this years ago, but the recent Ninjas versus Pirates debate warrants a de-mothballing.
Posted at 10:47 AM
IS SENATOR BYRD A CRYPTO-NAZI? [Jonah Goldberg ]
You've probably heard Robert Byrd's diatribe about the "nuclear option" -- which would bring debates to a close -- being something out of Hitler's playbook. What you probably didn't know is that Byrd was behind the effort to reduce the majority required for cloture in 1975. Maybe he sees something in Republican efforts he saw in himself back then?
Posted at 10:42 AM
WELL, IF YOU SLEEP BETTER.... [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 10:23 AM
DEBKA FILE [Jonah Goldberg]
Has anybody ever truth-squadded Debka about how often they're right? I don't go there often but it seems like whenever they "make" big news it turns out to be wrong. Anyway, they're reporting for what it's worth:
Sources in Beirut report Syria has reinforced units deployed on hills overlooking Lebanese capital. DEBKAfile’s military sources have also sighted unusual Syrian military movements in the last 24 hours in Lebanon and Syria.
Posted at 10:07 AM
SEPARATED AT BIRTH? [John Derbyshire]
A faithful reader: "Good morning, Derb---Take a look at the picture of George Soros in today's online edition of America's Newspaper of Record . Who in the world wears his hair like that except for Kim Jong Il? I submit to you that the two men are one in the same. After all, have you ever seen the two of them together?"
Posted at 10:06 AM
NOVAK SAYS THINGS ARE SWINGING... [Rich Lowry ]
...Lindsey Graham's way on Social Security.
Posted at 10:00 AM
POOR BUT PROUD [John Derbyshire]
Robert Mugabe admits that most of the land "liberated" from white farmers by his gangs of activists has returned to the bush, and is now unproductive. Never mind, though, says Cap'n Bob: "This was the price that Zimbabwe would have to pay to redress the wrongs of the British colonial era."
In other words: It's too bad our country is starving and bankrupt -- but hey, at least we poked a finger in Whitey's eye, didn't we?
Posted at 09:54 AM
DIARY FOLLOW-UP [John Derbyshire]
Harrumph. Response to the math quiz in my February diary was not up to the usual standard. Sharpen up your pencils, please -- yes! you there in the back row, and get rid of that gum please. I see I shall have to start giving pop quizzes.
What is interesting about that function's derivative is that though it has a supremum and an infimum in any open interval containing zero, it never manages to attain either!
The supremum and infimum are 24 and minus 24, respectively.
(Math teachers note: I got that from one of my old textbooks, Gelbaum and Olmsted's Counterexamples in Analysis (1964), a goldmine for this sort of thing.)
Posted at 09:51 AM
BAD DECISION [Jack Fowler]
There aren’t too many decisions a kid (and/or his parents) can make with worse consequences than choosing the wrong college. Maybe you’re one of the unlucky ones: when you wrote that massive tuition check, it seemed right, because you and your kid bought into all the hype and bogus Pomp and Circumstance College. And then for the next four years, he bought into all the PC hogwash the professors were force-feeding students in the lecture halls! You look back and lament: Why didn’t someone warn me that this school was a liberal indoctrination camp?!
Today hundreds of thousands of high-school juniors and seniors stand on the brink of making that same awful decision. But take heart: For just $10 you can help them avoid that, because for every sawbuck you send us we’ll send a gift copy of the special NR edition of Choosing the Right College--the book Thomas Sowell and countless other conservatives refer to as America’s premier college guide--to a high school, where scores of kids will use it. Choosing the Right College will tell them which “top” schools are really nothing more than ivy-covered soap boxes for left-wing nut-job professors, and which schools really do offer a good traditional education. Your gift copy (we’ll have it sent to your alma mater if you wish!) will perform immense service by helping today’s seniors and juniors avoid making a huge and terrible decision. Take the NR “Sawbuck Challenge” here.
Posted at 09:49 AM
BEAT THE RUSH [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm gonna stop watching Geena Davis' new show now before it's on.
Posted at 09:45 AM
TIMEWASTER CLASSIC EDITION [Jonah Goldberg]
Just because I can, here's the penguin swat for old times sake.
Posted at 09:38 AM
TIMEWASTER [Jonah Goldberg]
Not a great one.
Posted at 09:35 AM
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA + OFFICE SPACE [Jonah Goldberg ]
This is for fans of both only. Most of you can ignore, but a small number of you will be very grateful. Yes, there's profanity.
Posted at 09:33 AM
A PRAYERFUL ACT [K. J. Lopez]
Catholic radio talk-show host Greg Popcak is fasting for Terri Schiavo and proposes others join him.
Posted at 09:24 AM
“THE DEMOCRATIC GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE.” [K. J. Lopez ]
Here’s an Egyptian pro-democracy activist writing in the Daily Star.
Posted at 07:40 AM
STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN SYRIA? [K. J. Lopez ]
Joshua Livestro e-mails with some useful translations:
This article in today's edition of the Berlin newspaper Die welt (entitled “When we win, Syria’s regime will fall”) is well worth reading. First of all, it explains that the ultimate ambition of the Lebanese demonstrators is regime change in Damascus:Wenn die Syrer den Libanon verlassen, dann "ist das auch das Ende des syrischen Regimes", sagt Alan Merhi. Alle Anwesenden geben ihm recht - denn es ist Geld aus dem Libanon, mit dem sich das Baath-Regime in Damaskus finanziert. "Sie kontrollieren die Casinos, die Häfen, sie nehmen 50 Prozent unserer Steuern, sie haben sich an den 40 Milliarden Dollar bedient, die dem Land nach dem Bürgerkrieg für den Wiederaufbau geliehen wurden", sagt Merhi. Gerade das mache die Lage gefährlich. "Die Syrer werden nicht ohne Gewalt gehen. Sie werden versuchen, im Libanon einen neuen Bürgerkrieg zu entfachen. Aber es wird diesmal nicht funktionieren."And again in the final paragraph:
Posted at 07:29 AM
WOLFY OR BONO? [K. J. Lopez ]
Somehow I knew the Wolfowitz for World Bank thing would get knocked down. But Bono…that’s one I’d expect.
Posted at 07:15 AM
ASSAD “CORNERED” [K. J. Lopez ]
WashPost editorial this morning: “The 8 million Iraqis who turned out to vote, the Palestinians who have overwhelmingly supported the cease-fire with Israel, and the tens of thousands of Lebanese who have been marching and camping in the center of Beirut have all proved more potent than assassinations and suicide bombs. If Mr. Assad will not yield to the new political realities they are creating, he will place his own regime at risk.”
But I can’t believe I didn’t see this before: the old MSMers who are starting to get it all now,…it’s because France is with us! (“The unlikely but potent U.S.-French alliance can bring extraordinary pressure to bear on Damascus if it chooses…”)
Posted at 06:59 AM
AND, MARYLAND, TOO [K. J. Lopez]
wants to be the next California, publicly funding embryonic-stem-cell research and more....
Posted at 06:53 AM
"I'M A LITTLE AMAZED AT THE WORKLOAD." [K. J. Lopez]
Oh my. I'm actually hoping the AEI dinner wasn't too good, because I'm looking forward to Michael Ledeen's reponse to Porter Goss on the Hill yesterday. Heaven help us.
Posted at 06:49 AM
AEI PROM [K. J. Lopez]
If David's post is any indication of how well the American Enterprise Institute's big dinner went last night, it's a good thing I missed the train down to D.C., or The Corner would be asleep today...(more than a few of our guys were there....)
Posted at 06:41 AM
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
UPDATE ON "PREVIEW TO A HEARING" [Shannen Coffin]
On the eve of Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearing, I wrote a piece about one of the witnesses who would testify against the new Attorney General. The point of the piece was that Douglas Johnson, the Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture, was a signatory to the Syros Declaration, an international statement condemning the U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan as equivalent to the attacks of September 11. Since then, I've received a letter from Mr. Johnson, stating that he was an unwitting signatory to the Declaration. Mr. Johnson, whose work in "treating and healing victims of torture" I described then as "admirable," writes that while he was at the meeting at which the Declaration was adopted, he "argued against it, was not allowed to vote for or against it, and protested when I saw that it had been issued to the press with my name on it." Mr. Johnson writes that the Declaration had been posted on a website with his name on it without his knowledge or consent and that he is "most happy to be disassociated from the Declaration." Because my piece was based upon the Declaration itself, which included Mr. Johnson as a signatory, this is not an official "correction" of the story. The error, if any, was on the part of the organization that issued the Syros Declaration. However, it is heartening to know that Mr. Johnson has formally disclaimed the Syros Declaration, which is an abomination. It is also heartening to know that his testimony for the minority in opposition to Attorney General Gonzales did not succeed in derailing the nomination.
Posted at 05:46 PM
INTERSTATE ABORTION … [Jack Fowler]
Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which makes it a federal offense to knowingly transport a minor across a state line with the intent that she obtain an abortion, in circumvention of a state’s parental consent or parental notification law. One of the people testifying is Marcia Carroll. Just two weeks ago her 14-year-old daughter was taken from Pennsylvania to New Jersey for an abortion. Get this: on Christmas Eve the girl told her parents that she was pregnant, and decided that she wanted to keep the baby. Then her 15-year-old boyfriend's stepfather and grandmother pressured her to have an abortion and then coordinated her transportation to New Jersey and met her at an abortion clinic. The girl was upset and had second thoughts, but the stepfather and grandmother told her they would not take her home if she didn't have the abortion. She did, and is now, reportedly, suffering intense grief. Stepdad and Granny sound like peaches, no?!
Posted at 05:09 PM
RED SOX SOUTH LAWN [Shannen Coffin]
Just got back from the White House, where I stood out in the freezing cold with 1000 of my closest friends for 2 hours for a 15 minute ceremony that was sheer bliss. The President and Vice President welcomed the WORLD CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX to the White House. The President congratulated the Old Towne team, noting that what they accomplished took "a lot of guts and a lot of hair." He also noted the frigid weather was in keeping with the saying that it would be a cold day when the Sox were welcomed to the White House as Series champs. I invited K-Lo to attend, but sadly she declined.
Posted at 04:55 PM
AXIS OF VOLCANOS BEWARE [Jonah Goldberg ]
Airborne laser contract has been assigned. Faster, please indeed.
Posted at 04:43 PM
RE: STEWART AND SODERBERG [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 04:40 PM
JOHN ASHCROFT LEAVES [Jonah Goldberg ]
And even the currency goes pornographic.
Posted at 04:38 PM
SANTORUM [K. J. Lopez]
PoliticsPa.com is reporting that Bob Casey will run against Santorum--that an announcement is "imminent."
Posted at 04:19 PM
SPEAKING OF ADULT STEM CELLS [K. J. Lopez ]
Here’s another successful example of such research. An actual success, too, unlike the vague panaceas we hear talked about in the ESCR debates (which are really the only stem-cell debates that are had).
Posted at 04:06 PM
BIG IDEA FEW WANT TO TALK ABOUT [K. J. Lopez ]
I caught a few minutes of Michael J. Fox on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC the other night.
Sigh. (Sorry, I do that a lot. The options are sigh or hit the TV or monitor. Sighing is more cost effective in the end.)
They were talking about stem cells and I just ask again: why can’t anyone talk about the promise of adult-stem-cell research? I would think Fox would especially want to. But he doesn’t, and so there’s a jumbled mess of a conversation in the public square. If he made the plunge (which seems so obvious to do), others would follow. Oprah would be talking about it! In a nutshell: We’d be getting somewhere, on many levels.
During the course of the Donny Deutsch conversation, a big joke was made that Bush has surrendered “the high ground” because he’s allowed research on some existing stem-cell lines. Like Romney has encountered in Massachusetts, any kind of middle ground from those who are trying to avoid full-scale embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning will not be well-received, because, the pro-escr/cloning (sorry, somatic cell nuclear transfer) is more radical than it is usually given credit for.
Posted at 04:04 PM
ORIGINALISM AND THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
After several of us piled on Andrew Stuttaford yesterday, it occurred to me that we should give him (and Justice Kennedy) this: The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishments" at least appears to pose a problem for originalists--at least for those originalists who believe that the every provision of the Constitution must be enforced by the federal courts (or must be read in a way that makes such enforcement possible). The language is vague in a way that allows it to be read as incorporating a kind of principle of, well, evolution. Does the amendment ban punishments that were thought cruel and unusual at the time of ratification, or those considered cruel and unusual today, or some class of "objectively" cruel and unusual punishments (however those would be determined)? I'm not sure that knowing that we should be guided by the plain meaning of the words, as historically recovered, gets us all or even most of the way to an answer.
One possible answer, at least for those of us who don't have a court-centered view of the Constitution, is that to the extent a provision is vague the courts have less warrant for judicial review under it. But I can't see any plausible answer to the question that justifies casting aside both the historical practice of allowing the death penalty for juveniles and the judgment of legislatures that the practice should be continued.
Posted at 04:03 PM
EXCHANGE ABOUT SCIENCE [John Derbyshire]
"Mr. Derbyshire---Your review of Simon Singh's book in the Feb. 28 issue of National Review included a general defense of the integrity of scientists. Singh, you say, 'gives the reader a valuable lesson in the progress of scientific inquiry, in the nature of scientific method and the means by which controversies in science are resolved. A great deal of nonsense is talked and written about this, particularly by anti-evolution propagandists. Singh's account shows plainly that the generality of scientists are neither passionless Mister Spocks, weighing evidence with cold, flawless objectivity, nor grim upholders of a pseudo-religious dogma determined to defend crumbling theories to the last ditch.'
"Would you be as comfortable with that quote were 'anti-evolution' replaced by 'anti-global-warming'? I'm afraid that I can't recall whether you have written anything about Bjorn Lomborg, but National Review has certainly had a lot to say about the scientific establishment's defense of the 'pseudo-religious dogmas' of environmentalism against Lomborg's skepticism.
"You say that scientists are 'reluctant to let go of the convictions of a lifetime, but usually willing to do so when faced with convincing evidence.' Do you believe that to be as true of environmental scientists as it is of physicists? What about evolutionary biologists?"
Reply: The key phrase there is "convincing evidence." Broadly speaking, when evidence is very sparse, the human side of scientists comes out, and there is much grandstanding, politicking, and ego-tripping. So it was with the Big Bang until the 1970s, when the weight of evidence began to make the anti-Big-Bangers look silly. When evidence reaches a critical mass, science at large swings behind the better theory. A few eccentrics like Hoyle might hold out; but science **at large** knows the difference between a theory that fits the evidence parsimoniously, and one that doesn't. Not only does it know it, in fact, it depends on that knowledge for its livelihood and reputation! I don't know any counterexamples to this rule. The problem, again, is that when the evidence is scanty, pretty much anything can be made to fit.
With global warming things are much worse than they were with Big Bang because there are more political points to be made (Rich countries BAD! Poor countries GOOD!) and more gummint money to be spent. The fundamental problem is the same, though. The evidentiary database is just too sparse. You can make any sort of case from it. The earth is a large object: measuring its average temeperature is a tricky business. Trying to see whether that temperature has changed across decades is an order of magnitude harder. And then you have to try to figure out whether, if there *is* change, it's caused by human activity. (Followed, of course, by the question: If there is change, and it is human-caused, DOES IT MATTER?)
Evolutionary biology presents a different case. The origin of species by natural selection via mutated forms is the only theory we have. There isn't another one. ("God makes it happen!" isn't a scientific theory, only a metaphysical one.) There is no competition of theories here, of the type Big Bang vs. Steady State, or Global Warming vs. No Global Warming (or Man-Made Global Warming vs. Natural Global Warming). Nobody has an alternative theory. This may be just a failure of imagination on the part of biologists. Perhaps next week someone will come up with an alternative theory for the origin of species that will make Natural Selection via Mutations look silly. Until that happens, though, NSvM is the only game in town. And it looks pretty good. We don't have any observations that contradict it (e.g. a species of winged insects arising in a single generation from a species of un-winged ones). *And* the more we learn about the actual mechanisms of morphology & inheritance, the better the theory looks. Of course it might be all wrong -- it's just a theory; but at present there is no reason to think it's all wrong, and again, NO ALTERNATIVE THEORY.
Posted at 03:57 PM
LAURENCE TRIBE'S FRIENDS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Actually, Jonah, there has been at least one attempt to defend Professor Tribe. It’s by Tom Goldstein, who notes in a partial disclosure that he “regularly work[s] with Larry Tribe on Supreme Court litigation.” His defense adopts several strategies to sidestep the issue of scholarly misconduct:
1) Mischaracterize what I wrote. Goldstein says that my criticism of Tribe is merely that he “very strongly implied” in 2003 that he had made a bold Ninth Amendment argument in a 1980 case when he didn’t. That’s part of the criticism in my article. But it’s not the entirety of it. And it's important to note that it's not the case that Tribe wrote one stray sentence or paragraph that strongly implied something false. The whole Tribe article makes no sense except as an attempt to portray his record in the 1980 case as different than it was. For example, since Tribe didn’t make anything close to the bold Ninth Amendment argument he later claimed to have made, there is ample reason to doubt Tribe’s 2003 account of having withstood pressure from powerful figures to back away from that argument.
2) Mischaracterize what Tribe wrote. That 2003 “essay . . . is actually about the death of Tribe’s father—a subject that Ponnuru essentially back-handedly mocks.” First of all, Tribe's essay was not simply “about the death of Tribe’s father” and did not purport to be. It was about how that death gave Tribe the courage to be bold before the Supreme Court. I take it that Goldstein chooses the locution “essentially back-handedly mocks” since he can’t quote any examples of my actually front-handedly mocking the topic of Tribe’s father’s death. I did not mock that topic in any way. (Goldstein’s decision not to link to my article was strategically wise.) I didn’t, for example, suggest that Tribe’s treatment of it was “over the top,” as Goldstein does. I do, at one point, say that the "incident" which my article concerns—Tribe’s publication of an essay that seems to falsify his record—was “weird.”
3) Speculate about my motives. Goldstein believes that I am trying to damage Tribe in advance of a confirmation battle over Chief Justice Rehnquist’s replacement. I’m supposed to be under the impression that if Tribe’s credibility is damaged, there will be no other liberal law professors to write op-eds and testify against whoever Bush nominates. That’s nuts. I did the story because I thought it was an interesting story. Its timing reflects when I learned about the story.
My article stuck very closely to Tribe’s own words and to the record of the Supreme Court case involved. When I had to characterize, e.g., legal briefs, I tried to do so in as restrained and sober a way as possible, allowing for evidence that went against my thesis. (There was a very little bit of that.) I did not speculate about Tribe’s own motives. I did not do a lot of editorializing. I did not, for example, call Tribe slippery and dishonest. I am willing to say that, however, about one of his defenders.
Posted at 03:42 PM
WILL SHE BE A MS. WOMAN OF THE YEAR? [K. J. Lopez ]
Afghanistan Wednesday named its first female provincial governor, a step forward in the slow political progress of women since the fall of the Taliban more than three years ago.(Gotta love the Reuters spin from the get-go.)
Posted at 03:38 PM
READ... [Rich Lowry ]
...if you haven't already David Frum's superb Syria-Lebanon post today. He makes the important point that we have to get not just the Syrian military out of Lebanon, but its intelligence agents.
Posted at 03:33 PM
STINGY KILGORE [Rich Lowry ]
Like Jim Geraghty over at TKS, I was struck by the extraordinary stinginess of my friend Ed Kilgore, guest-blogging at talkingpointsmemo.com, when discussing what credit the Bush administration should get for the changes occurring in Lebanon. Kilgore rejects as “rhetorical enchantment” the idea that Bush's speeches had anything to do with it. More on that in a minute, but first: For heaven's sakes, Ed, Bush's policy has been about much more than speeches! It should be obvious that the big environmental change that has happened in the Middle East is the invasion of Iraq and the election on January 30 (which many on the left pooh-poohed or predicted couldn't happen). Ed says he will withhold credit from the Bush administration unless Lebanese leaders give it credit. Well, how about this? Walid Jumblatt, a Lebanese Druze leader now opposing the Syrians, told David Ignatius: “It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.” Amazing--a heretofore anti-US politician in the Middle East is willing to give Bush more credit than a very sensible New Democrat here in the US. As for Bush's rhetoric, it is much more than the State department making “the appropriate noises” as Ed characterizes it at one point. It is a rhetorical and diplomatic full-court press that is different in kind from anything we saw in the Clinton administration (Ed, trying to imply that there has been no big change in US policy, says general hostility to Syria “has been US policy for as long as I can remember”). That this has mattered should be obvious. Indeed, this is what the Wall Street Journal news pages said in an excellent front-page analysis of the budding revolt in Lebanon on Monday: “How it happened shows the way the more-aggressive US policies--from the invasion of Iraq to President Bush's rhetoric about fostering democracy--are mingling with local politics to jostle once-unquestioned realities in the region.” Finally, Ed makes a cheap debating point: he says that the Bush administration evades blame for things that are its fault, therefore, in effect, it shouldn't get credit for anything either. How silly. All administrations spin. Independent analysts should be able to decide how to apportion blame and credit on the merits. On the merits, Bush staked his presidency on an attempt to forge a better Middle East, an effort that is now bearing fruit, even if Democrats in this country want to look the other way.
Posted at 03:31 PM
CLONING COMETH [K. J. Lopez ]
The Massachusetts legislature has their embryonic-stem-cell/cloning bill on a fast track. From the AP this afternoon:
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate said Wednesday they expect to pass a bill by the end of March legalizing embryonic stem cell research, and predicted they will have the votes to override an expected veto by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.Cloning opponents would be wise to give Romney some support on this, before it’s too late there.
Posted at 03:04 PM
BEFORE AND AFTER BIRTH [K. J. Lopez]
Archbishop Chaput should have a chat with Howard Dean (from that aforementioned lunch): "Who will take care of the unwanted children?" another asked.
"I'll take any child that's unwanted and find them a home and take care of the mother," he said. "You have my personal pledge on that."
Posted at 02:53 PM
ORIN KERR [Ramesh Ponnuru]
made the same point about Saletan and Scalia that I did, before I got to it.
Posted at 02:53 PM
H. R. 97 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Rep. Tom Feeney (R., Fla.) has a resolution expressing the sense of the House "that judicial interpretations regarding the meaning of the Constitution of the United States should not be based in whole or in part on judgments, laws, or pronouncements of foreign institutions unless such foreign judgments, laws, or pronouncements inform an understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution of the United States." I wouldn't be surprised if he started to pick up more co-sponsors after yesterday.
Posted at 02:39 PM
SCALIA'S POLF-PILF [Ramesh Ponnuru]
William Saletan argues that Justice Scalia, in arguing that the Court has an inconsistent view of the capacities of minors, is guilty of an inconsistency of his own. Scalia’s dissent in the juvenile death-penalty case notes that the Court has struck down parental-notification laws because some minors are capable of making the abortion decision themselves just as adults are. He asks how the Court can deny that some minors are capable of committing crimes for which they should be held responsible, just as adults are. Saletan argues that Scalia’s criticism does not apply to every justice—which Scalia didn’t say. Saletan also says of Scalia that “by taking the opposite side in both cases, he’s flop-flipped.”
As phrased, Saletan’s conclusion is just a non sequitur. Saletan assumes that what’s driving the outcomes of these cases is a view of the capacities of minors. But what’s driving Scalia’s decisions is not a theory about the capacities of minors. Rather, he has a theory about which branch of government the Constitution gives the power to make those determinations. There’s no inconsistency in finding that the Constitution lets legislatures both pass parental-notification laws on abortion and expose juvenile offenders to the death penalty. And there’s no reason why a justice who finds these things can’t point out the inconsistencies on the other side.
Posted at 02:35 PM
LIBERTY LOVING CHICKS ARE HOT [Jonah Goldberg ]
Nod to Instapundit.
Posted at 02:34 PM
CONTRA BLOGGER TRIUMPHALISM [Jonah Goldberg ]
My column on how the blogger euphoria is deserved but misplaced. Money graf is at the end and I am prepared to defend it against friend and foe alike:
Left-wing bloggers believe they are part of the same "revolution" as right-wing bloggers are. They're not. The conservative blogs are the shock troops of a decades-long battle to seize back the culture. Conservatives have always had to rely on "alternative media" — magazines, AM radio, blogs — because the Mainstream Media closed the door to conservatives. And even when they let a few token ones in, they had to be labeled "conservative" first and journalists a distant second. The lefty blogs are something else entirely. They represent — much like the still-lame liberal talk radio and the new liberal think tanks — an attempt to copycat conservative successes. Their fight is not with the monolithic mainstream media (or academia) but with the usurpers. Politics is not a battle of technology. It is a battle of ideas, and therein lies all the difference.
Posted at 02:30 PM
BROOKHISER ON JPII [K. J. Lopez]
Rick has a thoughtful (as usual) JPII retrospective in his Observer column this week (covering the good and bad). Here's some of it:
Purple-fingered Iraqis voting on their own destiny, and Lebanese demonstrating in Martyrs Square for freedom from Syrian overlordship, are the latter-day heirs of the John Paul II, for the quarter-century of liberation which is now shaking the Middle East began with him, when the brand-new Polish Pope made a pilgrimage to his homeland in the summer of 1979.
Posted at 02:16 PM
ERIC CLAPTON? HMMM. NO. NEVER HEARD OF YOU. [K. J. Lopez ]
The queen is evidently not a Claptonite.
Posted at 02:09 PM
FAITH UNDER FIRE [K. J. Lopez ]
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is the type of religious leader (whatever your creed) we could all afford to see more of: Here’s a write-up of a heated lunch he had earlier this week.
Posted at 02:08 PM
VASECTOMIES VS. ABORTION [K. J. Lopez ]
Disturbing comparison of pre-procedure counseling.
Posted at 02:07 PM
SCARLETT A'S [K. J. Lopez ]
Why do abortion advocates get so apoplectic whenever the words abstinence and adoption come up? Here’s a Planned Parenthood blogger upset at Florida money going toward adoption talk.
Posted at 02:06 PM
ACTRESS JADA PINKETT SMITH… [K. J. Lopez ]
…may be too “heteronormative” for Harvard.
Posted at 02:05 PM
DEAN ON LIFE [K. J. Lopez ]
"I want to reach out to people who are worried about values," Dean said. "We are going to embrace pro-life Democrats because pro-life Democrats care about kids after they're born, not just before they're born."
Posted at 02:03 PM
AMAZING [Jonah Goldberg ]
A friend called me about this this morning. Fortunately Best of the Web has the transcript. Basically Jon Stewart recognizes what's going on and Nancy Soderberg from the Clinton administration basically, kinda-sorta, admits that progress and freedom aren't things "Democrats" (as opposed to Americans) really hope for in the Middle East right now.
Posted at 01:52 PM
I SEE DEAD PEOPLE [K. J. Lopez ]
Andrew Stuttaford went and saw “Body Worlds” a while back, by the way, and doesn’t buy the educational aspect.
Posted at 01:51 PM
BODY TALK [K. J. Lopez ]
I've noticed this thread for a bit in The Corner and feel that I need to throw my two cents in for whatever you deem it's worth.ME: What did “No comment” mean? Just that. That said, I find the whole thing creepy, for starters, particularly, as art. A tasteful science exhibit is one thing (from what I’ve gathered second hand, that is not von Hagens’s business, tasteful science lessons). I found myself in a medical museum recently and, yes, seeing a pre-born child at its different stages means more than thousands of words of rhetoric and debates. It’s neither in-your-face-or-subtle.
But why is this von Hagens stuff considered “art”?
Posted at 01:51 PM
THE CORNER AS MONTY PYTHON [K. J. Lopez]
This discussion the two of you are having regarding Kathryn violating her own ban reminds me of the scene in Monty Python's The Life Of Brian where the one guy is being stoned to death for saying the word "Jehovah" out loud, and eventually he frustrates John Cleese (who's in charge of the stoning) so much that he blurts out "…if you say Jehovah once more…."
Posted at 01:12 PM
R.I.P. [K. J. Lopez]
Former Rep. Tillie Fowler has died.
Posted at 01:07 PM
TRIPPING [K. J. Lopez ]
Amtrak is running a small-group fare sale—90 percent off. (Anyone get the idea no one takes Amtrak on long trips? Free it to the free market--privatize!) Our much talked about bus trip could be a train trip…would beat the Planned Parenthood train I wound up on by accident last year. Even with a Jonah Trekkie convention car.
Posted at 12:49 PM
RE: UNITED WAY [K. J. Lopez ]
Folks remind me UW is locally run. Bear that in mind.
Posted at 12:48 PM
ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE... [Jonah Goldberg ]
What the hell is happening to liberalism?
I see (via TKS) that Matt Yglesias is putting on his realist hat to poo-poo the possibility that Lebanon might actually become a democracy. He writes " I feel like there are a few skeptical notes that ought to be sounded here. One is that, near as I can tell, there's no really clear sense in which the Syrian sphere of influence in Lebanon is bad for the United States of America. [Emphasis his!]
First, "sphere of influence" is an awfully nice Orwellian way to describe thousands of troops and intelligence operatives who maintain a climate of fear as they bilk Lebanon of its wealth and mock its sovereignty.
Second, I think you could make all sorts of realist arguments about why it's in America's interest that Lebanon becomes a major domino in the falling chain of dominos leading toward liberty and prosperity for hundreds of millions of Arabs. Economic growth in the region (and the world), friendlier regimes, an exit strategy for our unpopular-but-necessary support for Israel: all of these things show up on my list (Jim has others).
But that's not the point. Since when are liberals supposed to make "let 'em rot" arguments about people living under the yoke of tyrrannical regimes? In a way, I suppose, Yglesias sounds a bit like the Cold War lefties who insisted the Czechs, Poles, East Germans et al. had things pretty good under the Soviets so why should we care so much about "captive nations" and all that. But whether the analogy holds or not, Yglesias really does seem to be expressing what can reasonably be called a new liberal America-firstism (in fairness to historical accuracy we should note that many liberals were America Firsters the first time around too). When some conservatives in the 1990s expressed skepticism about Clinton's adventures in Bosnia and Haiti they were called "isolationists." I guess now similar sentiments about the most exciting liberal (properly understood) project since the end of the Communism are simply the stuff of enlightened "liberals." I wish they'd hurry up and switch their label back to "progressives" already so it would be easier to describe these illiberal liberals.
Posted at 12:47 PM
TWAIN, KIPLING, ALCOTT, BAUM, BURGESS--THE GANG’S ALL HERE! [Jack Fowler]
NR’s kids books have been justly acclaimed for being wholesome collections of the best writers and the best stories. Our titles are exactly the kind of books that should be in every home. That’s why we have this special promotion, where you’ll get two books--The National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories and Queen Zixi of Ix--FREE and postpaid when you buy (for just $29.95) volume two of The National Review Treasury of Classic Children’s Literature. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents, parents: these books make great gifts! Take advantage of this special offer here.
Posted at 12:43 PM
GOLDBERG'S CONE OF SILENCE NONSENSE [K. J. Lopez]
This morning I suspected it, now I know you're avoiding some deadline.
Posted at 12:38 PM
NEXT STATE UP? [K. J. Lopez]
NY Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver wants to start a non-profit stem-cell insititute.
Posted at 12:32 PM
I SEE (A WAY AROUND THE STAR TREK BAN)... [Jonah Goldberg]
Kathryn chastises me for mentioning cloaking devices in defiance of a certain ban. But! by mentioning it herself she violates her own ban. Now -- stick with me as I wax Talmudic -- since Kathryn is the all-powerful goddess of the Corner, the violation of her own ban is much like the old conundrum "can God make a rock so heavy even He can't lift it?" It creates an impossible contradiction at first glance. But -- aha! -- Kathryn's mention of the cloaking devices lie deep within parentheses. Since she mentions cloaking devices -- a direct reference to subjects banned in this space -- inside these parentheses, perhaps she sees these symbols as cloaking devices of a sort themselves. Much like the "null-space" or "nullentropy bins" in the Dune, Marvel and other sci-fi universes, the normal rules of the Corner do not apply withing these other-dimensional pockets of the multiverse. Or for non-sci-fi types think Maxwell Smart and the Cone of Silence. Anyway, perhaps the famed (Star Trek) ban doesn't apply within parentheses. These parentheses are actually portals to (anti-matter universe) spaces where writing about banned topics (like Star Trek) is not only allowed, but required. Perhaps future posts could look like this:
See what I mean? Huh, do ya?
Posted at 12:28 PM
"PRO-CHOICE VOLUNTEERS HONORED" [K. J. Lopez]
If you donate to United Way, you might want to know about this.
Posted at 12:20 PM
TIMEWASTER [K. J. Lopez]
"Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sit-Com Character"
Posted at 12:17 PM
"A FULL-GROWN FREAK" [Jonah Goldberg ]
I'm a fan of Andrea Peyser and I've been meaning to write a column about why I think the Michael Jackson trial isn't merely tabloid trash but an important story. So I'm sypmathetic to Peyser's overall take. But I think this column -- linked on Drudge -- is simply insufficiant. It closes with the line: " He is not Peter Pan. He is a full-grown freak. And he must pay." I agree with the sentiment entirely, but the column doesn't demonstrate the important part of the conclusion -- that he must "pay." It supports the conclusion that he's a freak, but a picture could have done that almost as easily. The guy is on trial for what probably amounts to his life. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that Michael Jackson is ill-equipped to spend 20 years in prison. And that would be true if here weren't an alleged child molester. I think he's guilty and must pay, but even in op-eds you've got to support conclusions like that.
Posted at 12:08 PM
RE: AM I ALONE ON THIS... [K. J. Lopez]
You forget the coffee (AND MENTION CLOAKING DEVICES), you pay.
Posted at 12:08 PM
ABOUT LAST NIGHT [Tim Graham]
MRC's Brent Baker reports the media were in Anthony Kennedy's pocket last night:
In reporting the Supreme Court's decision to bar the death penalty for those under 18, the networks on Tuesday night stressed how out of step the U.S. had become with the rest of the world and ABC and CBS gave equal time to relatives of murderers as to victim's families. NBC anchor Brian Williams heralded how the ruling "ends a practice that drew ridicule for years from some of America's closest friends around the world." Peter Jennings trumpeted how "this brings the U.S. into line with much of the world." ABC's Manuel Medrano highlighted how "most of the world has already outlawed juvenile executions" and lamented how the U.S. "was among only a handful of countries permitting such executions." Medrano relayed how one woman "is relieved that today's decision means her father's death sentence will never be carried out." CBS's Jim Stewart passed along how a murderer's mother "was relieved, arguing that crimes committed as a juvenile don't deserve the ultimate grown-up punishment."
Posted at 12:06 PM
AM I ALONE ON THIS... [Jonah Goldberg]
Or am I getting a distinctly hostile vibe from Kathryn this morning? What did I do?
Posted at 12:00 PM
MAN BITES DOG [K. J. Lopez]
And in case the nuclear option is employed, Strickland says, Specter has hired a committee staffer who's well versed on the nuts and bolts of its execution. Dimple Gupta co-authored a Harvard law review article with Marty Gold (a former Frist parliamentary guru) which has been widely circulated among Senate Republicans as a go-to book for the what, why, and how of this complicated maneuver. Strickland suggests that Gupta's hiring should temper some criticism from conservative groups who were unhappy when Specter earlier hired a Democrat and former NAACP lawyer. The committee source contends Gupta was not hired to appease the right, but says the former Justice Department official will work on nominations.
Posted at 11:56 AM
RE: GAYBRAHAM LINCOLN [Jonah Goldberg ]
Some funny stuff on new indications that Lincoln might have been gay from the New Yorker:
Posted at 11:55 AM
RE: "DON'T WAKE LEDEEN" [K. J. Lopez]
If he's on his way to your place, please make sure he has a cameraman with him.
Posted at 11:52 AM
"DON'T WAKE LEDEEN" [Jonah Goldberg]
Okay, last post on what I still maintain was a perfectly legitimate line of inquiry:
I am so glad your ponderings with regard to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon were done in the early morning and maybe before Ledeen wakes up. If he sees them, he might come by your place and bitch slap you off the sofa that has obviously taken temporary control of your mind.
Posted at 11:41 AM
RE: TIME AND STEREOTYPES [Tim Graham]
Rich Galen notes over at Mullings.com what's at the tippy-top of the Time website:
Ironically, on Time magazine's webpage -- remember this is the Women-in-the-Sciences issue - there is a teaser for an on-line article titled, "Pretty Crafty: Women are sewing at home to make their own fashion statements" complete with links to websites named "getcrafty.com" and "craftster.org."
Posted at 11:37 AM
LARRY TRIBE [Jonah Goldberg]
I am simply amazed that Ramesh's smackdown on Larry Tribe in the current issue of the mag hasn't gotten more play. I just read it over the weekend and I've been waiting for the blowback. Basically, Tribe is something of a fabulist -- to borrow a phrase from (a more egregious) fabulist, Steve Glass.
Posted at 11:36 AM
MORE HEZBOLLAH [Jonah Goldberg]
I've gotten several emails along these lines:
Posted at 11:24 AM
HEZBOLLAH: THE NEOCON CONSPIRACY [Jonah Goldberg ]
The sage of Frostburg, James Wolcott, smells another neocon conspiracy from "the usual suspects" over the threat from Hezbollah. As he takes time off from stroking his many cats, he strokes his crystal ball to see a new wave of bogus scare-mongering over the threat from Hezbollah here in the United States.
As to whether Hezbollah is an exceptional threat inside America's borders I'm fairly skeptical myself.
But what I find amusing about Wolcott's latest panty-bunching over perfidious neocons is his contention that the neocons have only recently invented the notion that Hezbollah is a bad bunch (Of course his use of the word neocon is typical lazy lefty nonsense typical of the Brits and people who want to be Brits). Anyway, in the last few years it was opponents of the war in Iraq (i.e. opponents of "neocons" in Walcott's understanding of the term) who wanted to elevate the status of Hezbollah. Senator Bob Graham said about 8 trillion times that Hezbollah was the "A-Team" of international terrorism. He even introduced legislation to amend the Iraq war resolution to include military strikes against Hezbollah. Hezbollah has killed at least seven American CIA officers, by the way. Which is one reason why hawks have always considered Hezbollah a serious threat.
Posted at 11:13 AM
"CORPSE ARTIST PLANNING POLISH FACTORY" [K. J. Lopez]
Posted at 10:27 AM
HEZBOLLAH, ISRAEL ETC. [Jonah Goldberg]
A very good email from a student of these things:
Dear Jonah, Did I hear you give serious thought about a 'stability' argument in favour of the continued Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and against the democratic aspirations of the Lebanese people? I thought you guys were rubbishing anyone pushing the same argument in Iraq! Syria has always enjoyed playing the role of the arsonist and the fire department. The reason why Hezbollah did not disarm 15 years ago along with all the other militias in Lebanon, as stipulated in the Taef agreement that ended the war in Lebanon, is because the Syrians had other plans for it.
Me: I think I was pretty clear that my gut says that the stability argument is unpersuasive to me, but that I hadn't heard a forceful case directly on that point.
I should also say -- responding to some other emails on this whole thing -- my main reservation is not Israel. I think if this instability makes things worse for Israel in the short or medium term, that's perfectly acceptable. My main question was about Lebanon itself. If Syria leaves does Hezbollah run Lebanon and would that mean replacing one non-democratic ruling system for another? From what people are telling me, the answer is no. The "People Power" movement (I much prefer "Cedar Revolution" by the way) is not looking to replace one dictatorial regime with another. And if that's the case, great. Bring on the creative destruction.
Posted at 10:24 AM
HAFEZ ASSAD STATUE TORN DOWN [K. J. Lopez]
in a Lebanese village
Posted at 10:24 AM
KENNEDY [Mark R. Levin]
I think a good argument can be made that Anthony Kennedy has "evolved" into the most activist of the justices. Here are some of his pearls of wisdom, demonstrating his complete contempt for the Constitution and his role as a justice:
Lawrence v. Texas (homosexual sodomy): "Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensinos. "The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government ... The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (abortion) (attributed to Kennedy): "These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteeth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."
Roper v. Simmons (juvenile death penalty): "When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity."
This kind of argumentation is standard fare on the Oprah Winfrey Show, but not from a Supreme Court justice who cares about faithfully executing his constitutional role.
Posted at 10:03 AM
BLOGOTRY WATCH [Jonah Goldberg ]
Just over one week ago I wrote that by the end of the year there would be thousands of pages using the word "blogotry." When I posted that Google said there was only one page on the entire internet with the word. As of today there are 146. Note: Some readers claim that "blogitry" or "bligitry" would be better. Perhaps. Though I don't think so. Nevertheless, the point is moot. Blogotry must become the new universal standard for anti-blog bigotry.
Posted at 10:03 AM
RE: DEATH PENALTY [Jonah Goldberg]
I think Ramesh's emailer not only has it right but he undersells an even larger point. Almost no social institution or intervention has a single impact. As abortion went up in this country so did the anti-abortion movement. As usage of the death penalty increased so did the anti-death penalty movement.
Take the debate over pop culture. For some, most, people violence on TV is cathartic. For other people violence on TV is a how-to video. And for many others it's something in-between. All of these debates could use a healthy dose of the sort of realism which comes when one accepts that not all people "think like me."
Posted at 09:56 AM
TONY SNOW [K. J. Lopez ]
I hear from a source close to Tony Snow that he has now been in and out of surgery for colon cancer and has since been up and walking, but is, as one might expect, very tired. But not too tired to work on getting his hospital to carry Fox! We all wish him and his family best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Posted at 09:52 AM
ALL HAIL THE GOD THAT SPEAKS WITH BULLETS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader in response to that sketchy story about the Million Mom March woman:
Posted at 09:50 AM
RE: LUCAS [Jonah Goldberg]
A fair point from a reader:
Me: But what this reader fails to grasp is how irrational my anger towards Lucas is at this point. He may be blameless on the OC decision itself. All I said was that it's a reminder of his villainy which is why I would like to beat him with a bag of oranges. Indeed the phrase beat him with a bag of oranges might have been the tip off for some that I am immune to rational defenses of the man at this point. TK 421 where are you!
Posted at 09:37 AM
THE DEATH PENALTY AND ABORTION [Ramesh Ponnuru]
An email: "I'm against the death penalty (firmly, but on purely rational grounds--my emotions run in precisely the opposite direction), but the point you quote Jonathan Last as making against it strikes me as hopeless. Good rhetoric; bad reasoning. We should oppose the death penalty (or support it) on its own merits. It is entirely possible that executing brutal killers, far from coarsening people and inclining them towards accepting abortion, etc., actually strengthens respect for the basic sanctity of life principle (by showing that we are serious about the norm against killing the innocent). Indeed, it is possible (depending on lots of other factors) that it coarsens people in some circumstances or under some cultural conditions, and has the opposite effect in others. There is no a priori reason to think that the social effects will be the same in all places and at all times. So, let's keep the debate about the death penalty on the death penalty."
Posted at 09:27 AM
BLUE OVER NO MORE BLUE [Shannen Coffin]
NYPD Blue ended its twelve year run last night with an episode that suggested that the squad would just keep on going as it had for the last dozen years; it's just that we won't be able to watch them anymore. It was by far my favorite television drama of all time. It portrayed the life of a New York City detective squad in a realistic, compelling manner. Was it always perfect or accurate? Of course not. As others on this page have noted, the interrogations on the show regularly crossed the line of what can be done legally -- but don't we all want the bad guy to be treated that way anyway? Very few crimes went unsolved -- would that that were the case in real life. And there probably were a few too many gorgeous detectives than reality would permit. Finally, some complained that the show was too bawdy and foul -- but it was on in the last hour of prime time when kids shouldn't be watching anyway. Heck, my church complained when "Soap" aired in the 70s, but that show was one of the funniest sitcoms ever and, by today's standards, looks positively quaint. At bottom, though, Blue was just a great show that showed us a cop trying to conquer his demons. The final episode suggested that Andy Sipowicz may have, at least, gotten control over his life and his past -- that he'll always have to struggle but that we know he will survive. It wasn't the best episode ever, but it left the hardcore dedicated viewer (like me and my brother Chris) satisfied. It was a little sad not to see "scenes from next week's episode" at the very end. I'll miss it.
Posted at 09:25 AM
A CHEER FOR THE BOSOX (NOT THE BRONX KIND EITHER) [K. J. Lopez ]
They’re heading to Walter Reed while in D.c.:
After the ceremony with the President, the team will go to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and visit with some of the soldiers. "Larry Lucchino took the trophy there the first week of January, and found it to be a very moving experience," said Steinberg. "Moving because these men and women and just came back from Iraq. The injuries in many cases were very sobering. Larry's description from that visit was that the attitudes of the men and women overwhelmed him. It was as meaningful a visit as I've ever heard him describe." So when the Red Sox got the invitation to go to the White House, Lucchino wanted to make sure they took advantage of all the opportunities presented to them. "This was [Lucchino's] idea," Steinberg said of the visit to see the soldiers. "He said, 'The Boston Red Sox are going to the White House, don't just turn around and come home. Make something more out of it. Go and see these soldiers and acknowledge to them that we know who the real heroes are.'"
Posted at 08:51 AM
MANIPULATION [Stanley Kurtz ]
One of the more disturbing themes of the Time cover is its taken-for-granted acceptance of the idea that, as our knowledge of brain function increases, we ought to manipulate human intelligence. For example, Ripley offers this quote from a psychology professor who studies intelligence: “If something is genetic, it means it must be biological. If we can figure out the biology then we should be able to tweak the biology.” Ripley then comments, “Maybe Summers’ failure was not one of sensitivity but one of imagination. So we ought to be “tweaking” the biological architecture of male and female brains? We are headed for dangerous times. The new interest in brain biology is a two edged sword. It has raised legitimate questions about social constructionist orthodoxy. Those questions ought to be debated. But the new brain biology is itself on shaky ground and should not be treated as an alternative orthodoxy, much less as a license to tamper with the human brain.
Posted at 08:30 AM
RE: SAX [Stanley Kurtz ]
As I noted in my earlier remarks on Sax, I think he’s onto something about the differences between men and women. Yet I remain skeptical about Sax’s detailed claims on brain biology. I’ve never been particularly sympathetic to biological explanations. My own view is that many differences between men and women are “cultural,” but not in a way that can be changed. It is a mistake to believe that culture can simply be swept aside. As for biology, there’s pregnancy and childhood to content with. I’ll say more about all that down the road. But first, I have some questions about the idea of brain-based differences between the sexes.
Based on Ripley’s cover story at least, I’m not convinced that the “architectures” of male and female brains is really different. It’s not clear that concentrated brain activity in divergent areas means that these differences have been genetically programmed. Take this quote from Ripley: “...women seem to have stronger connections between the amygdala and regions of the brain that handle language and other higher-level functions.” This appears to be a distinction of degree. But if that’s true–if the brains of men and women differ only on average, and only in their general tendencies–then the differences could as easily be due to socialization as to “hard-wiring.”
Just because we can now “see” brain activity doesn’t mean that genetically programmed brain “architecture” is the cause of that localized activity. It could also be that socialized tendencies themselves lead to styles of thinking that are localized in particular areas of the brain. It’s not clear to me how much of the new brain biology is susceptible to that sort of alternative interpretation. Ripley herself implies that in some cases, brain differences may be as much effect as cause. I’m curious to know what knowledgeable readers have to say about this. Even then, I won’t be satisfied until we’ve got detailed critiques of the findings of brain biology from knowledgeable skeptics. But of course, for that to happen, we’d need an open debate. Time, to its credit, seems ready for such a debate. The academy, unfortunately, is not.
Posted at 08:29 AM
TIME THIS WEEK [Stanley Kurtz ]
The fallout from Summers affair keeps growing. The latest cover of Time features an Amanda Ripley story called, “The Math Myth.” Title aside, the story does not debunk Summers. Instead it draws on the middle ground position outlined in Leonard Sax’s new book, Why Gender Matters. I blogged about Sax the other day. He claims that male and female brains do differ, and advocates single sex education designed to overcome each sex’s characteristic weaknesses. Whether or not Sax is right, it’s remarkable that his perspective is shaping a Time cover story. Sax is politically incorrect. Although he argues that brain based differences can be overcome, Sax gives the whole idea of biological differences between the sexes legitimacy. Put that together with his advocacy of single sex education and you have a feminist nightmare. Campus feminists may have levered the Summers affair into yet more affirmative action. But in the culture at large, the Summers controversy has opened up a broader discussion that can only make feminists look bad.
Posted at 08:29 AM
DOES JUSTICE KENNEDY LIVE ON MY PLANET? [Andy McCarthy]
Justice Kennedy in Roper: "Our determination that the death penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18 finds confirmation in the stark reality that the United States is the only country in the world that continues to give official sanction to the juvenile death penalty."
Iran Press News, Nov. 16, 2004: “A 14 year old boy died on Thursday, November 11th, after having received 85 lashes; according to the ruling of the Mullah judge of the public circuit court in the town of Sanandadj he was guilty of breaking his fast during the month of Ramadan.”
Maybe now that the good justices are evolving us, we can finally abandon our primitive ways and achieve the lofty due process standards of the “international community.” I could go on, but what’s the point?
Posted at 08:11 AM
RE: IT GETS WORSE: SENATOR SALAZAR [K. J. Lopez ]
Expect the Colorado freshman to get grief in the homestate (or so one hopes) for this (same WashTimes piece):
Republicans faced another rude awakening yesterday when Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat who has crossed party lines to support Mr. Bush's nominees, sent a letter to the White House asking Mr. Bush to withdraw his filibustered nominees.It sounds like he’s been in the Senate too long already. See this campaign-era Newsweek piece:
As non-partisan as Salazar might hope to be, what would he do as senator if the Democratic leadership asked him to join a filibuster against a Bush judicial nominee? “I would hope all nominees get up or down votes,” Salazar answered. “And the decision on an up-or-down vote should be based on whether or not the president’s nominee is qualified for the position.”
Posted at 07:54 AM
SPANISH-ONLY SHEA [Jim Boulet]
Spanish fluency may now be required for those who seek to coach the New York Mets', according to the HREF="http://www.nydailynews.com/02-27-2005/sports/baseball/story/284807p-243988c.html">New York Daily News:
Two years after Roberto Alomar lobbied the Mets to hire a liaison to Hispanic players because of a perceived lack of sensitivity, the organization has left little doubt about its commitment to diversity. The Mets have the only Hispanic general manager in the game in the Queens-raised Minaya; a trusted deputy to Minaya in Puerto Rico-born Tony Bernazard; New York's first African-American manager in Willie Randolph; a major-league coaching staff that includes three minorities - two born in Latin America - and, according to the team, one of only two Spanish-speaking head trainers in baseball. ...The New York Mets could boast of offering English classes to their players -- especially those teenage prospects who attend their baseball academies. Instead they flaunt the Spanish fluency of their coaching staff. Now none dare call them insensitive. And that seems to be the real point of this ostentatious exercise in political correctness.
Posted at 07:53 AM
"CENTRIST" DASCHLE [Tim Graham]
Washington Post writer Ann Gerhart covered a soiree for defeated Tom Daschle today, which could bring a Republican happy memories of November ("The way they looked last night was sad and meek. What Might Have Been hung over the room"). But with the Post being a liberal newspaper, they had to publish this silly sentence of bad history: "Elected to the Senate from the House in 1986, Daschle, now 57, was credited with unifying fractious Democrats in the mid-1990s and pushing a more centrist philosophy." Whatever "centrist" moves the Senate Democrats made back in the "Macarena" days came from Der Schlickmeister, not from Daschle, who was more recently known for stuffing judicial nominees, stifling faith-based initiatives, opposing tax cuts, and helping NARAL raise direct-mail money.
Posted at 07:52 AM
AHA! [K. J. Lopez]
Jonah remembered I pass out those gold stars on the second of the month.
Posted at 07:48 AM
OKAY... [Jonah Goldberg]
Now I'm taking Cosmo out...
Posted at 07:42 AM
ME UP EARLY [Jonah Goldberg]
Well, first of all I've been AWOL for a little while so I figured I needed to chip in for the team (working on new G-File now btw). But I suppose it also has something to do with the fact that my little girl woke us up at 5:00 with a tummy bug and strategically targeted barfing. That'll always get ya up in the morning.
Posted at 07:41 AM
HEZBOLLAH & SYRIA [Jonah Goldberg ]
Well, I spoke too soon. Flynt Leverett writes in the Times that Syria should stay because Hezbollah will run the show if the Syrians leave. I don't find the piece particularly powerful and he writes in a style and tone that suggests that he's more conventionally Arabist and pro-status quo than to my liking. But I do think it's a real concern and he addresses a real problem. I'd still love to read a detailed case for why the Hezbollah issue shouldn't make us think twice. I get the larger argument about how you need to let these revolutionary processes play out and the smaller issues end up fixing themselves. Remember all of the concerns about why we should slow things down, keep Ukraine in the Soviet Union etc, when the Wall came down? I'm open to the idea that the same thing is happening here, but I'd like to see the argument spelled out better on this issue.
Posted at 07:35 AM
SPEAKING OF JONAH [K. J. Lopez]
What's up with him talking so early? And doesn't he know he has to bring coffee?
Posted at 07:27 AM
MOODY COWS [K. J. Lopez]
We've so been there, Jonah, while you were gone. And I got yelled at for speaking ill of Ashley Judd by a large male contigent of the audience.
Posted at 07:22 AM
IT GETS WORSE [K. J. Lopez]
Watch this logic: Dems promise they'll continue to filibuster judges. Specter admits disappointment (but I hired some of your guys on my staff, come on!!). So the White House nominates a Harry Reid pick for a Nevada federal bench seat (reward!).
So, uh, what exactly is the agenda/plan for the GOP this Congress? Do they need some of those cheesy motivational posters for their offices? Or at least a blown-up definition of what "leadership" means?
Posted at 07:22 AM
IF GEORGE LUCAS WERE TIED UP IN MY BASEMENT... [Jonah Goldberg]
I'd run down stairs, take away his gruel, and hit him with a bag of oranges again.
The Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith trailer will premiere during Fox's O.C. on March 10.
The reason this bugs me is simple. It's just another reminder that someone convinced George Lucas and his entourage that the Star Wars movies were always intended for kids. In fact, I'm kind of surprised they aren't showing the trailer on Spongebob Squarepants.
If Lucas had made these new films grown-up movies that were accessible for kids, rather than kids movies which appealed to the nostalgia of grown-ups, he would have remained one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He's still laughing his way to the bank, but the movies have become something of an embarrassment. I truly don't understand why this is so hard to grasp. The Incredibles was more oriented toward adults than Phantom Menace was. I know I've said this a million times, but the key to the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back was that they took themselves seriously. They didn't apologize for being sci-fi. If the audience thought sci-fi was stupid, that was on them. The worst thing about the new Star Wars films -- besides from being at times abysmally written generally ("I hate sand" indeed) -- is that they constantly wink at the audience; "we don't take ourselves that seriously."
Anyway, Kathryn's moving her finger dismayingly close to the button that activates my pain collar. So I'm going to go walk Cosmo now. He understands...
Posted at 07:19 AM
I'VE SO BEEN MENTIONED ON THE MS. WEBSITE, DON'T WORRY [K. J. Lopez]
BUT they used to have a, basically, "women we hate" feature in the print mag, but they killed it before I made it. Soooo disappointing. Were you ever featured--maybe they got confused because you went to a women's college?
Posted at 07:12 AM
GARY LARSON WAS RIGHT [Jonah Goldberg]
Cows are moody, wry and just a bit whimsical according to the latest research. Though I get a whiff of Peta-ism here.
Posted at 06:51 AM
KATHRYN WILL BE SOOO JEALOUS [Jonah Goldberg ]
I'm mentioned in Ms. Magazine's blog. I'm stunned the compliments are back-handed.
Posted at 06:46 AM
IT’S ONLY MARCH 2 [K. J. Lopez ]
And the Senate GOP has got me awfully down already (I know, I know, I should expect nothing else). Here’s Bill Frist lowering SocSec expectations.
Posted at 06:25 AM
THE GLORIOUS CATASTROPHE & HEZBOLLAH [Jonah Goldberg]
David Ignatius has lots of useful tidbits here.
He also raises something I haven't seen addressed fully. I am all in favor of the tipping-point, freedom moment, Cedar Revolution stuff. But as a matter of practicalities is it really an obvious good thing for the Syrians to leave Lebanon before Hezbollah has been dealt with? Ignatius raises the possibility that Hezbollah might cut a deal with the oppposition movement in Lebanon which would be bad news for Syria's hopes to hold on there, but would that be good news for Lebanon? They're the only militia not to disarm under the peace accords and they're extremely influential in Lebanese politics. Is an unstable Lebanon with Hezbollah the 800 pound gorilla really better than a stable Lebanon with Hezbollah on something of a leash?
My gut says yes. Keep moving forward. This is a moment of creative destruction and removing or weakening Syria's control of Lebanon would bring more benefits than costs. But I would like to read something that tackles this question head-on.
Posted at 06:23 AM
CLOAKING DEVICES! [Jonah Goldberg]
That's right, cloaking devices. The only question is whether or not Democrats in the Senate will complain that this research is another example of Bush unilaterally violating our treaty obligations including, of course, the Treaty of Algeron.
[Note: Kathryn cannot ban what she is not awake to see]
Posted at 06:02 AM
SAVED BY KENNEDY [John J. Miller]
One person who now won't face the death penalty, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling: Lee Boyd Malvo, the convicted sniper who terrorized the D.C. region during a 2002 killing spree.
Posted at 06:00 AM
SKETCHY STORY [Jonah Goldberg ]
A Million Mom March organizer is found with a gun in her home. But that's just where the story starts to get interesting. Via Drudge.
Posted at 05:56 AM
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
SADDAM JUDGE [K. J. Lopez]
Posted at 07:17 PM
CONSISTENT ETHICS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Jonathan Last writes, "Every time the government executes a prisoner, it hardens us that much more to the act of abortion, or embryonic stem-cell research, or to the every-day moments where mercy is needed." I can see the attraction of the underlying moral position that Last asserts in his post. But I don't know if I buy the claim about the death penalty's effects on society. Hasn't public opinion on abortion moved fairly independently of opinion on the death penalty? And if there's a relationship, shouldn't Europe be a lot more hospitable to pro-lifers than it is?
Posted at 06:24 PM
PLANETARIUM BABY! [Jonah Goldberg]
In my youth the Floyd show at the Hayden Planetarium was a big deal. I shall not share any more memories than that.
Posted at 06:20 PM
IMAGINE [K. J. Lopez]
"could you imagine MTV doing MTV Cribs from the Buckley residence? I have yet to see an episode of Cribs where a rock star has a desk let alone a bookshelf (with books on it, not acrylic animals). "
Posted at 06:18 PM
JEEPERS -- NINJAS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah, as a longtime reader and admirer, I feel obliged to bring to your attention that the email you received and published in the Corner asking for more ninja anecdotes is an underhanded ploy in an esoteric game, a cunning gambit by evil forces who want you to be their pawn. What am I talking about? I am hesitant to describe it directly. Let me be very clear: If you bring up this subject on the Corner--the most divisive topic known to modern man--you will pay a serious price. You will not be able to claim ignorance when Kathryn brings the hammer down on you for your irresponsible thread-spawning, for you will have been duly warned.
Posted at 06:12 PM
TOM SMITH: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Not happy with the Supreme Court.
Posted at 05:40 PM
TWO WEEKS [K. J. Lopez]
A Cedar-revolutionary chronology (only the beginning).
Posted at 05:38 PM
LOU DOBBS [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm a fairly devoted "Special Report with Brit Hume" watcher so I normally don't catch much on the other channels at 6:00 O'Clock EST (including re-runs of the Simpsons). But my hotel yesterday didn't have Fox News so I watched Lou Dobbs' CNN show at 6:00 O'Clock. Wow. I'd heard about his anti-free trade stuff and all that. But if last night's show was typical, than Dobbs is vastly -- vastly -- more ideologically loaded than Hume is. In fact, Dobbs is closer to Bill O'Reilly than to Brit Hume. It was nonstop editorializing straight to the camera. All of these folks who are rending their clothes and gnashing their teeth over Hume's reading -- or misreading -- of an FDR quote should flip channels if what they're really angry about is ideologically loaded commentary passing itself off as news.
Posted at 04:53 PM
SAY GOODNIGHT, DAN [Tim Graham]
As Dan Rather drones through his last full week as CBS anchor, the MRC's long-memory brigade has assembled a nice summary of his most outrageous and/or humorous quotes for the occasion. Watch him welcome the Republican takeover in 1995: “The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor.” (And don't miss Rather's 1984 bit on how the platform showed Walter Mondale was marching the Democratic party toward the right wing.)
Posted at 04:23 PM
ANNAN'S #2 [K. J. Lopez]
stonewalled Oil-for-Food auditing.
Posted at 04:21 PM
CONTROLLING FEDERAL SPENDING [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I'm on a panel that Americans for Prosperity is hosting on Capitol Hill this Friday.
Posted at 04:05 PM
CONFESSIONAL RE: BANKSHOT [K. J. Lopez]
Maybe it's because I grew up in a pre-Rudy NYC, but I always expect the worst. When it comes to the war, I went from expecting the worst to being cautiously optimistic at certain turns--i.e. the Iraq elections. But I remember talking to Rich re the Iraq election days before and he was very optimistic. And, actually, just last Thursday night, at our fundraiser at the Buckley crib, I know I cringed a little when Rich made some remarks similar to that post he just put up. This is the Middle East, dude. The impression Bush will make will be a strong nudge, but I wasn't so sure about indelible marks. But a hangover or two later and a Cedar Revolution on the streets of Beruit, and I'm putting my money where Lowry has his.
Posted at 03:33 PM
TIERNEY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
He's a more consistent, and more economics-oriented, libertarian than Safire. I suspect that he will liven up the op-ed page considerably. I also suspect that I'll agree with 75 percent of his columns and write only about the other 25.
Posted at 03:18 PM
JUST FOR THE RECORD... [Jonah Goldberg]
I don't think the Scotus decision was "good" for a bunch of reasons, but mostly beause I'm really scared that Ramesh, Shannen, and Jon would come after me next.
Posted at 02:57 PM
SCOTUS & INTERNATIONAL LAW [Shannen Coffin]
An email on today's death penalty decision: Various comments in The Corner have touched on SCOTUS' citing an unratified treaty as reasoning for it's decision. No one, however, has directly addressed the implications of Scalia's comment that (paraphrasing) "the court now joins and ratifies treaties." While SCOTUS has heretofore acted *only* as an accountable domestic legislature, it is now assuming the power to create international law. Pretty damn scary it seems to me.
ME: Just a reminder that John Jay was not acting in his judicial capacity when he negotiated this country's first treaty with Great Britain. I want to make sure that's not cited as precedent here.
Posted at 02:51 PM
"NO TO TERRORISM" [K. J. Lopez]
The Purple Revolution continues. At the site of that horrific Iraq bombing yesterday, 2,000 Iraqis protest terrorism.
Posted at 02:45 PM
BANKSHOT! [Rich Lowry ]
For me, the most strategically compelling reason for the Iraq war was always that it would break-up the axis of radicalism in the Middle East and make it possible to re-orient the region around something better--an axis of decency, running from Turkey to the new Iraq to Jordan to Israel. But this geo-political case for the war was always difficult to make in political argument and it also seemed an awfully risky justification for war, since you were hoping for something of a bankshot--that the invasion of Iraq would eventually affect the political feel of the entire region. But, lo and behold, it's happening before our eyes! I never imagined it would happen so quickly. Bush gets a lot of the credit, for his stick-to-itiveness and his audacity. He has also, finally, gotten some breaks in the Middle East, with the death of Arafat and the Syrian over-reaching in Lebanon sparking the Cedar Rebellion. Yes, the Middle East could still disappoint. Perilous days still await us in Iraq. But it seems increasingly clear that the Middle East will never be the same, and that's a marvelous thing.
Posted at 02:35 PM
CAN OF WORMS. OPENED. [Andrew Stuttaford]
Oops, Shannen, Ramesh, Jonathan, did I say something?
Do I think that the legal definition of what constitutes 'cruel and unusual' punishment can change over time? Yes. Do I think that the notion that a bright, shining line can always be drawn between 'law' and 'policy' is an illusion? Yes. Am I standing in the Corner's corner? Yes. Am I asking General Cornwallis for advice as to what to do next? Yes.
Posted at 02:33 PM
"PEOPLE POWER" CON'T [KJL]
Thousands of demonstrators turned a square in Beirut into a sea of Lebanese flags on Monday night and exploded into riotous celebration when the government unexpectedly quit after a parliament debate on the killing of ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri.
Posted at 02:24 PM
MEMO-TO-SELF: MORE NINJAS [Jonah Goldberg]
More Northwestern feedback from an attendee:
Dude, you rocked. Your talk was hilarious as well as insightful. It was good to finally meet ya, and thanks for signing my NR with your "Groundhog's Day" article.
Posted at 02:19 PM
SALON AND ME [Jonah Goldberg]
As I was travelling and working all day yesterday and today without much time for email, I seem to have missed a whole lot of chatter about a piece in Salon in which I allegedly said some supposedly outrageous things about torture and free speech or some some such. To be honest, I haven't read the piece yet. I postponed reading the email on the subject since I didn't have time. I've got to file a column, but something tells me I was misrepresented now that I've gotten so much email like this:
he concedes that it fundamentally contradicts what the United States stands for, "what undermines what we stand for," he says, "is the publication of all this information." ... "I do think there's a reason why the CIA does this stuff in secret, and why I think it should do a lot of things in secret. These things have a lot of propaganda value, both negative and positive, so I think we need to separate out what we think are 'good policies' from what the consequences are if those policies are publicized." Many progressives I know might, upon reading this gaudy putrescence, dream about chaining Mr. Goldberg to the floor in front of his computer for a 36-hour stretch, letting him squirm in his own feces and urine while listening to George Bush say "moooooolahs" and "nukular" repeatedly at 100 decibels. But none of my friends would turn their idle dreams of torture into reality no matter what the provocation, no matter how insidious the enemies of freedom like Mr. Goldberg become. Likewise, civil discourse with these spouters must remain an unfulfilled dream. The men and women Goldberg has aligned himself with secretly outsource torture to Egypt and Pakistan and then wonder why so much of the world sneers when America publicly urges these nations to make progress toward democratic rule. Dissent they view as treason, so what can there possibly be to discuss? Maggots are unmoved by argument.
When I'm done with my other stuff, I'll read the Salon piece and respond more, if warranted.
Posted at 02:17 PM
RE: A QUIBBLE [Shannen Coffin]
Ramesh, by the first point, I only meant that the determinations of the great moral issues of our day -- homosexual marriage, the death penalty, abortion -- are issues for which Courts are the worst arbiters. The decision of whether to allow the death penalty here is best left the legislatures and executive branches of state and federal government. I believe the "moral wisdom" that the Cardinal spoke of in his press release was the moral wisdom that the death penalty is wrong. That is simply not an issue that Justice Kennedy or any other person in a black robe is better situated than elected officials to decide. I don't disagree that there is a morality in the law. As Alexander Bickel titled one of his great books, it is the "morality of consent." And the courts should recognize the limits of their own authority as a matter of moral wisdom, as you say. So I don't think we have a difference here. And on the second point, my concern is that the Church recognize that consistency of position is as important to achieving their objectives as is the content of that position. Their complaint should be directed at the legislatures, not the court. And if directed at the court, it should be simply a request that the courts stay out of it.
Posted at 02:17 PM
DEATH PENALTY AND FEDERALISM [Jonathan H. Adler]
A D.C. lawyer notes that today's death penalty opinion in Roper v. Simmons is also an affront against federalism:
By invoking an imagined "trend" by state legislatures toward the statutory abolition of juvenile capital punishment, the Court effectively is allowing certain states to dictate policy in other states. States like Texas and Virginia now are bound by the policy preferences of legislators in Vermont and Oregon. It's the perfect, if perverse, complement to the Court's increasing invocation of foreign sources of "law," as a result of which the American people as a whole are to be governed by elites in Brussels. . . . Roper thus represents not just an assault on judicial restraint, but an offense against federalism.
Posted at 02:13 PM
PILING ON ANDREW [Jonathan H. Adler]
I have substantial qualms about the death penalty, but I cannot see how today's decision is "good" in any sense of the word. As a legal opinion, it's outrageous. It replaces representative government and the rule of law with the moral sense of five folks in robes. Justice Scalia nails it when he writes in dissent:
The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.I'd also say that those who think the decision makes for good policy -- that is, that a categorical rule barring capital punishment for crimes committed before the age of 18 while allowing the death penalty for adults -- should read this amicus brief submitted by Alabama and five other states. If the death penalty is permissible -- and, as a constitutional matter, it clearly is -- then there is no basis for a categorical age-based rule like the one created today.
Posted at 02:11 PM
I'M BACK [Jonah Goldberg ]
Nice to be home. Good to have gone. Given that I don't normally talk about such things, I think it went pretty well. Nice turnout of NRO fans (I would guess at least half of the 100-150 or so folks there). Went out for beers and grub with some of the more hardened souls. Was drilled with questions about K-Lo, Rich, Ramesh and Derb. Once again the youth had better things to do. What is happening to America's youth?
One annoying bit was that I forgot to pack a comb or brush and so I ended up getting out of the shower with my coif tres unkempt, not that I'm normally that kempt. One intriguing aspect of the evening is that I could swear Marlin Fitzwater was in the audience chuckling at the geek show on stage. I wanted to seek him out afterwards, but by the time I stopped saying hi to the NR-crowd he was gone. I'd love to know if that was him.
Anyway, here's a long and generous write-up by one of the attendees who also picked up the tab at the firehouse. So, send page impressions his way if you can. If it's an incentive, there's an absolutely hellacious picture of me.
Posted at 02:05 PM
A QUIBBLE WITH SHANNEN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
You write: "'Moral wisdom' should not be driving our constitutional decisions in these areas, but is best left to the elected branches of government to decide. Perhaps you should stick to matters of the Church because you're not helping in matters of the law." Regarding the first sentence: Although I'm sure you don't mean it this way, it is too easy for opponents of judicial restraint (especially those on the Right) to use such remarks to caricature originalism as a relativistic philosophy. I'm sure you're familiar with this sort of attack on Rehnquist, Scalia, and Bork. It would be better, I think, to say, that moral wisdom in this instance consists of judges' respecting the proper limits of their authority. As for the second sentence: I think the remedy here is a more intelligent and reflective political engagement by the bishops, not a withdrawal from the field. It would be wrong to rule out in principle the idea that the bishops ought to take a stand against injustices embodied in the law (even if they don't do a great job of making the necessary judgments in a particular case).
Posted at 02:01 PM
GOOD? GOOD? [Shannen Coffin]
Andrew, explain to me just one example of how this is a "good decision." Just because you agree with the policy disguised as law doesn't make this a good decision. In fact, it is a travesty of constitutional law. One reader adds the following: Obviously the Roper decision represents the worst sort of judicial overreaching, with five unelected judges substituting their policy preferences for those of the peoples' elected representatives. But there's another aspect of the decision -- a federalism aspect -- that's equally objectionable. By invoking an imagined "trend" by state legislatures toward the statutory abolition of juvenile capital punishment, the Court effectively is allowing certain states to dictate policy in other states. States like Texas and Virginia now are bound by the policy preferences of legislators in Vermont and Oregon. It's the perfect, if perverse, complement to the Court's increasing invocation of foreign sources of "law," as a result of which the American people as a whole are to be governed by elites in Brussels. (In a way, it's also the exact opposite of the "contemporary community standards" doctrine from the First Amendment context, under which individual localities are permitted to determine what is obscene -- i.e., what sort of speech does not qualify for constitutional protection -- and thus the constitutional standard varies from state to state.) Roper thus represents not just an assault on judicial restraint, but an offense against federalism.
Posted at 01:53 PM
A GOOD DECISION? [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Around here, Andrew, it is generally thought that approval of a judicial decision requires a bit more than approval of its results. Let's assume that you're right about executing people for crimes committed when they are young (although, as an opponent of the death penalty, I have to say that this practice does not strike me as obviously worse than executing people for crimes committed when they are old). What's the justification for not allowing legislatures to draw the lines differently?
Posted at 01:53 PM
BIG GOVERNMENT REPUBLICAN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Ted Stevens (R., Alaska) - Pushing, apparently, to apply "broadcast decency standards to subscription television and radio services like cable and satellite."
Posted at 01:51 PM
DEATH PENALTY COMMONSENSE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Looks like a good decision to me (although international 'law' should not have been cited in any way). I'm biased, of course, in that I'm opposed to the death penalty in almost every circumstance, but, in particular, I've never understood the logic of a system which provides that someone is old enough to be executed for a crime committed at an age at which (so says Elizabeth Dole) he is too young to handle a beer.
And does that leave some rather awkward questions about the 18-21 age range? Well yes it does.
Posted at 01:47 PM
RE PATAKI [Rich Lowry ]
Jack, I actually think that is now the FIFTH reference to our Pataki cover in the New York Times...
Posted at 01:13 PM
HITCHENS ON THE DEATH OF A CLICHE [Rich Lowry ]
The return of politics to Iraq has had many blissful secondary consequences, one of them apparently minor but nonetheless, I think, important. When was the last time you heard some glib pundit employing the phrase "The Arab Street"? I haven't actually done a Nexis search on this, but my strong impression is that the term has been, without any formal interment, laid to rest. And not a minute too soon, either.
Posted at 01:12 PM
ROPER & ROE... [Shannen Coffin]
A very wise reader reminds me that the US Catholic Bishops Conference filed a brief that asked the Court to abolish the death penalty for minors. In a press statement last summer, Cardinal McCarrick stated: "Just two years ago, the Court concluded that the execution of persons with mental retardation cannot be squared with the constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. It is our hope that the Supreme Court will now extend the same moral wisdom and legal reasoning to the use of the death penalty against those who committed capital crimes as juveniles."
Be careful what you wish for, Bishops. The basic reasoning in this decision, which gives five unelected justices the ability to decide what is best for all of us, is exactly the same reasoning that led to the unyielding legal protection for abortion in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, as well as the recent decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which constitutionalized homosexual sodomy and led directly to the state judicial decisions requiring states to legalize gay marriage. "Moral wisdom" should not be driving our constitutional decisions in these areas, but is best left to the elected branches of government to decide. Perhaps you should stick to matters of the Church because you're not helping in matters of the law.
Posted at 01:02 PM
WE GET TO KEEP JONAH [K. J. Lopez]
John Tierney is replacing Safire, as many expected.
Posted at 12:56 PM
MORE EARL WARREN [KJL]
From The Simpsons:
Marge: Do you want your son to grow up to be Chief Justice of the Supreme court or a sleazy male stripper?
Posted at 12:30 PM
THREADS COME TOGETHER [KJL]
I'll be brief. The greatest King of the Hill quote of all time.
Posted at 12:17 PM
ROMNEY ’08 WATCH / LIFE WATCH [K. J. Lopez ]
All eyes will be on Massachusetts if an "emergency-contraception" bill winds up on Mitt Romney’s desk this year.
Posted at 12:15 PM
NOT-SO SWEET [K. J. Lopez]
NARAL holds a poisonous fundraiser, with actor Tom Skerritt headlining: “1 evening of utter decadence all supporting a woman's right to choose...”
Posted at 12:14 PM
THERE IS A HIGH-SCHOOL JUNIOR [Jack Fowler]
at your alma mater who is in desperate need of Choosing the Right College. For only $10 you can make sure that he, and his classmates, have access to the wisdom in this mega-important book – the one Thomas Sowell calls “by far the best college guide in America.” Just one little sawbuck – imagine how much good it will do! Imagine how many kids it will put on the right path! Imagine how many kids it will direct away from colleges which are little more than liberal indoctrination camps! Go ahead, and make somebody’s day, for only $10 – order your alma mater’s gift copy of Choosing the Right College here.
Posted at 12:02 PM
CAN THE NEWS WIRES LOSE THE “DISSIDENT” MONIKER [K. J. Lopez ]
for OBL Already?
Posted at 11:59 AM
SCALIA IN THE DISSENT [Shannen Coffin]
As usual Justice Scalia gets it just right in his dissent. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the majority, which clings desparately to "stare decisis" and readily disregards the will of the majority of states when it suits its needs (as in the abortion context), Scalia writes:
In other contexts where individualized consideration is provided, we have recognized that at least some minors will be mature enough to make difficult decisions that involve moral considerations. For instance, we have struck down abortion statutes that do not allow minors deemed mature by courts to bypass parental notification provisions. See, e.g., Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U. S. 622, 643.644 (1979) (opinion of Powell, J.); Planned Parenthood of Central Mo. v. Danforth, 428 U. S. 52, 74.75 (1976). It is hard to see why this context should be any different. Whether to obtain an abortion is surely a much more complex decision for a young person than whether to kill an innocent person in cold blood.
Posted at 11:46 AM
KU ON CAPITAL CASE [Jonathan H. Adler]
My old college buddy Julian Ku has additional observations on Kennedy's citation to international treaties, including the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, at Opinio Juris.
Posted at 11:26 AM
REHNQUIST'S VOTE [Jonathan H. Adler]
Another correspondent notes that the Chief Justice's participation in today's death penalty ruling was not all that unexpected because of when the case was argued. The death penalty case was heard in October, when Rehnquist was still sitting. For cases heard in November, however, Rehnquist announced that he would only participate where necessary to break a tie. Given that there have been several recent opinions noting that Rehnquist did not participate, this wrinkle was easy to forget.
Posted at 11:25 AM
CAPITAL CASE CORRECTION [Jonathan H. Adler]
A slight correction to the observation below: The second treaty that Kennedy cites is not the ICC treaty, but the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This treaty was ratified by the U.S., but with the following reservation:
the United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional constraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.In other words, the reservation nullified the specific claim at issue -- that U.S. participation in the ICCPR suggests the existence of a "national consensus" against the death penalty for juveniles. Justice Kennedy shrugs this off noting that the reservation was in 1992, and much has changed since then. (No, really, that's his argument.)
Posted at 11:21 AM
RE: DEATH-PENALTY RULING [Shannen Coffin]
Jonathan, you just beat me to it. Justice Kennedy devotes an entire section of his opinion to examining how out of step U.S. death penalty practice is with the rest of the world. Thus, the "international" constitution once again rears its ugly head. It is no longer our right as Americans to define our own standards. Instead, we need to look to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child to decide whether the State of Missouri can execute a seventeen-year old for the premeditated and cold hearted murder of random victim (who was tied, duct taped and thrown off a bridge, just for kicks). To be clear, this isn't a question about the propriety of the death penalty. I'm perfectly happy to leave that to the individual states. It is a question of whether we should let 5 justices, who rely in part on international standards, to decide. Where's Mark Levin when you need him?
Posted at 11:19 AM
"WORST OF WINTER" [John J. Miller]
The Michigan Review -- the conservative student newspaper in Ann Arbor -- runs its annual "worst of winter" feature in the current issue, picking out this semester's silliest courses. There's "ecofeminism," "Queer World-Making," and "Representations of Women in Hip Hop" (which the Review hilariously describes as "bootylicious"). Are there really parents who spend thousands and thousands of dollars in tuition fees to have their kids go to class for this?
Posted at 11:16 AM
NR MAKES MONKEY OF GEORGE [Jack Fowler]
John Miller’s great cover story from the Feb 28th issue of NR – “Spurious George, The Pathetic Reign of New York’s Governor Pataki” – is getting big play in the Empire State. Today marks the third time the New York Times has milked the NR cover/article for Pataki analysis. Meanwhile, New York Newsday and other media outlets are playing up this Associated Press story which finds Hillary Clinton appartchiks bashing Pataki over the head with NR. Link away, and you can read about NR, or you can actually read NR itself by . . . subscribing! That can be accomplished safely and securely here for the dead tree version, and here for the digital version.
Posted at 11:00 AM
CAPITAL CASE OBSERVATIONS [Jonathan H. Adler]
A young Federalist who has already perused Justice Kennedy's opinion in the death penalty case e-mails with two observations. First, the Court cites two unratified treaties in reaching its decision, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Criminal Court Convention. Any citation to the latter as authority is quite outrageous. Not only has the U.S. not ratified the treaty, but the U.S. is not even a party; President Bush withdrew from the treaty in his first term. (Yes, Shannon, Kennedy's opinion may be even worse than you think.) I'll have to give these portions of the opinion a close look. Second, somewhat unexpectedly the Chief Justice joined the dissent even though his vote was not necessary to break a tie. Also, here are the dissents by O'Connor and Scalia.
Posted at 10:54 AM
RE: RE: DEATH-PENALTY RULING [Mark R. Levin]
All those gang members under the age of 18, some of the most vicious murderers known to law enforcement, will be pleased with this ruling. After they murder, they will now have time to "attain a mature understanding of [their] own humanity."
Posted at 10:53 AM
RE: DEATH PENALTY RULING [Shannen Coffin]
Justice Kennedy does it again. The uber-legislator rules for the liberals on the Court that the death penalty is unconstitutitional for murderers who happen to be under 18, with this reasoning: "When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity." "A mature understanding of his own humanity?" Someone want to explain that one to me? For those of you who follow these things, perhaps it just means "the right to . . . .define one's place in the universe." Oh, I give up.
Posted at 10:46 AM
TV [NRO Staff]
Andy McCarthy will be on MSNBC at 1230pm EST re" the ACLU's case against Rumsfeld based on the torture allegations (which they are announcing today).
Posted at 10:37 AM
DAUGHTERS [John Derbyshire]
Numerous readers of my column today: "You don't have to worry about young guys looking at your daughter. You only have to start worrying when she LOOKS BACK." Duly noted.
In the meantime, I think I shall buy a big, mean-looking shotgun. Not to shoot -- I wouldn't have a clue -- just to be cleaning it on the kitchen table when she brings boyfriends home.
Posted at 10:35 AM
RATING REHNQUIST [Jonathan H. Adler]
Over at Legal Affairs' Debate Club, Notre Dame's Rick Garnett explains why William Rehnquist is a great chief justice while UPenn's Kermit Roosevelt dissents.
Posted at 10:29 AM
MYERS HEARING [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the renomination of William G. Myers to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is underway. A webcast can be viewed here. How Appealing has more details here.
Posted at 10:28 AM
CHALLENGING PRYOR [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Supreme Court is sitting on three petitions challenging the recess appointment of Judge William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. As they've hacd the petitions for some time, some court watchers think the Justices are divided on the merits. Yet, as Feddie explains, there are good reasons to think that Pryor's appointment is secure.
Posted at 10:24 AM
JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY STRUCK [Jonathan H. Adler]
Today, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that it is unconstitutional to execute a murderer who committed his crime before the age of 18. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Justices O'Connor and Scalia wrote dissents. More here.
Posted at 10:21 AM
NYT ON ARI [Tim Graham]
New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani dismisses Ari Fleischer's book as a defensive packet of "potshots" at the press. She doesn't actually quote any of his examples of liberal bias, just dismisses them:
It's an argument that sidesteps the fact that cable news channels usually feature conservative and liberal guests in perfectly matched pairs à la "Crossfire." It's also an argument that shrugs off the very loud voices of conservatives on Fox News and talk radio - voices that no less a conservative than William Kristol has noted have provided "much more balance" in a media environment once criticized by those on the right as being too liberal.
Posted at 10:16 AM
"MINDS ARE CHANGING" [K. J. Lopez]
More re: our revolutionary times from Michael Barone: "George W. Bush gambled that actions can change minds. So far, he's winning."
Posted at 10:13 AM
MORE CORRECTIONS [K. J. Lopez]
I should know better:
Posted at 09:52 AM
SPIRIT OF AMERICA [John Derbyshire]
"Derb---On your column about owning guns... Actually I wish I did. I subscribe to the theory that 'it is better to have a gun and not need it, then to need one and not have it.'"
Far as I'm concerned, that goes for nukes too. Many times over.
Posted at 09:49 AM
RE: FROM THE BOONDOCKS [John Derbyshire]
Darn it, Kathryn has one of those 4-wheel drive thingies. All right, all right, I'm coming.
Posted at 09:49 AM
ARGH [K. J. Lopez]
I should know better:
Posted at 09:48 AM
RE: FROM THE BOONDOCKS [John Derbyshire]
Snow day! Snow day!
Posted at 09:42 AM
TWO PROPOSALS SHOT DOWN [K. J. Lopez]
Hasn't the Bachelor/Bachelorette overstayed its welcome yet?
Posted at 09:41 AM
MORE QUESTIONS RE: SCHIAVO [K. J. Lopez]
From "Not Dead Yet," a disability-advocate group: "Not Dead Yet has called for a moratorium on the starvation and dehydration of all people diagnosed in PVS, unless they have an advance directive, until such new diagnostic procedures are followed." More here.
Posted at 09:35 AM
OH MY [K. J. Lopez]
With President Putin's popularity in sharp decline, the Kremlin has set up a new Russian youth movement to ensure its control of the streets in the event of mass anti-government protests.
Posted at 09:14 AM
WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS THINKING? [K. J. Lopez]
A close watcher of these judicial fights e-mails re: that Hill piece:
Let's leave aside for a moment the language battle that is already lost (the term "nuclear option," which we are now futilely trying to re-label "constitutional option" because the former term is so damaging to the cause, was evidently coined by a Republican -- Trent Lott). Check out this paragraph on the disagreement b/w Specter and Frist:
Posted at 09:12 AM
UNDERSTATEMENT NO. 2 [K. J. Lopez ]
From our friend Steve Moore, in that Hill piece: “This is going to be a continuing problem for Republicans — as these judicial fights really heat up, it may be that Republicans rue the day that they made Specter chairman.”
And, they are going to blame ’08 hopefuls Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, by the way. (Last week’s Specter media blitz looked a lot like the Judiciary chairman dancing on the Majority Leader’s political grave. At least, for him, he has that heart surgeon gig to fall back on.)
Posted at 09:10 AM
NOMINEE FOR UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR [K. J. Lopez ]
From The Hill: “Specter Judiciary debut irks some conservatives.”
This is only one of the most important issues of our time.
Posted at 09:09 AM
HARVARD [Stanley Kurtz]
More Harvard bigotry.
Posted at 09:06 AM
NEOCONS [Stanley Kurtz ]
Looking at the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books, I particularly enjoyed Gerard Alexander’s, “Anti-anti-neoconservatism.” There’s been a veritable industry in books attacking neoconservatives. Alexander’s dismantling of the two newest polemics is smart and fun. Speaking of neocons, here’s a fascinating account of ex-liberal, Cinnamon Stillwell’s transformation into a neoconservative. I found it at lucianne.com, where I regularly spot all sort of great stuff.
Posted at 09:05 AM
MANSFIELD AT THE CORE [Stanley Kurtz]
Our current culture war is a direct descendent of the 1960's “generation gap.” But the beginning of the modern American culture war, properly speaking, dates to the attack by William Bennett, then head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, on Harvard University’s “hollow core.” Bennett argued, “that in many of our colleges, the curricula have become diffuse and directionless; that many of our colleges have lost sight of their fundamental role in conveying our common culture; and that young Americans have become increasingly removed from the very taproots of their society.” Bennett’s elevation to Secretary of Education, and the sensation created in 1987 by Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, set the culture war into full swing.
Now Allan Bloom’s friend and colleague, Harvey Mansfield, has produced a wonderful reflection on what a real core curriculum at Harvard ought to look like. Mansfield’s thoughts appear as, “A More Demanding Curriculum” in the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books. This importance of this piece goes way beyond the specifics of Harvard’s curriculum, just as Bill Bennett’s original criticism of Harvard’s “hollow core” had national significance. The battle over Harvard’s core stands behind the dust up over Lawrence Summers remarks on women and math. For many Harvard faculty members, Summers’s remarks merely provided a convenient point of attack. It’s tough for them to speak openly about their real objections to the new regime. Summers aims to strengthen and solidify Harvard’s famously hollow core, and for that the faculty cannot forgive him.
This piece by Mansfield is a gem. I was struck by the story of his freshman course with president Conant, architect of the original Harvard core. Catch the comparison between courses and condoms. Mansfield’s recitation of what ought to be in a proper core adds up to a withering critique of the contemporary academy, however gently it’s presented. But best of all is having so accessible an example of the way the great Harvey Mansfield thinks.
Posted at 09:04 AM
RE: LET FREEDOM RING [K. J. Lopez]
Here's Ledeen on "Revolution," by the way.
Posted at 09:02 AM
LET FREEDOM RING. [K. J. Lopez]
Even the NYTimes is getting a whiff of the freedom lust in the air in the Mideast, even noting the W role in it all; see today's top editorial:
[T]his has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power. Washington's challenge now lies in finding ways to nurture and encourage these still fragile trends without smothering them in a triumphalist embrace.
Posted at 08:56 AM
NO, K-LO!…IRISH COFFEE IS A BAD IDEA IN THE MORNING [K. J. Lopez ]
I was either out of it or in a generous mood when I allowed Dave Konig to write on the METS and even…allowed the mug of Wille Randolph in his new uniform on the homepage.
Of course, however: once a Yankee, always a Yankee. A.K.A. Who’s Your Daddy?
Posted at 08:51 AM
WORDS AS WEAPONS [K. J. Lopez ]
Andy McCarthy takes a deep look at the war on terror (or Militant Islam) and the First Amendment in the new issue of Commentary. Here’s a taste:
Without security, there is no liberty at all. The fact that government is made up of human beings, and that human beings are certain occasionally to abuse any powers given them, is surely a rationale for narrowing those grants of power; but not for eradicating them, or reducing them to a quantity that fails to protect or even to take account of the higher interest that impelled the grant in the first place. Individual abuses of dissent are bad, but undermining the framework that ensures the right to dissent is immeasurably worse. This, as Holmes intuited, is supposed to be a matter of degree.Read his whole piece here.
Posted at 08:35 AM
TAKING CARE OF VETERANS [John Hillen]
The Washington Post business section (rarely read in this one-industry town) had a piece yesterday on the extraordinary failure of the federal government to comply with a 1999 law requiring the government to award 3% of its contracts to firms owned by disabled veterans.
As you might expect, not a single department has even come close to complying – with two of the worst offenders (and biggest contract granters) being The Pentagon and The Veterans Administration! – languishing at .18 and .41 percent respectively.
I’m all for the free market myself in government contracting, but think that the one class of citizen who is truly disadvantaged by selfless service is the disabled veteran – who should benefit from this small bending of market forces to recognize their sacrifices.
Untold by the Post though, is the story of the other protected categories of firms which get much better compliance with the law. Women-owned, minority-owned businesses, and small businesses in general also get special “set-asides” which are much more stringently enforced than the disabled Veteran’s preference. In one government contracting business I ran – which used many smaller contractors for these set-aside awards, a squad of government Stasi enforcers descended one year to inspect our compliance with the women-owned rules in particular. No concern (as one can see from the Post’s statistics) about meeting the disabled Veteran’s requirement.
It’s a system that gets gamed often. Ironically, even South Asian Indians (who are among the savviest and most well-funded technology entrepreneurs in the DC area) can qualify for minority set-aside contracts. But the one that took the cake for me was one WASPY woman in town who found a way to document her 1/16th Lumbee Indian heritage in starting her “American-Indian owned firm” and won a multi-million dollar technology contract soon after. Smart business, bad policy. How about we take care of the veterans as smartly?
Posted at 08:25 AM
A HUMAN'S RIGHTS [K. J. Lopez ]
This is another Schiavo post.
Blogsforterri is trying to get Amnesty International’s attention.
Posted at 08:23 AM
WIFE BEATERS [K. J. Lopez]
No, this is not another Schiavo post.
"Wife beater" is going into the OED. Too bad Hank Hill can't show off one beside the entry.
Posted at 08:20 AM
RE: SCHIAVO [K. J. Lopez]
I know I ask this question often, in a number of contexts, but there's often a reason to: Where are the liberal feminists? MIA. A man who has very questionable interests controls the very life of his wife. Wouldn't this be a case for the women's groups? Too busy making sure children have the freedom to kill their own children (fighting parental notification, if you think I'm being hyperbolic), and the like, I guess.
Posted at 08:09 AM
THE LENGTHS PARENTS MUST GO TO KEEP THEIR DAUGHTER ALIVE [K. J. Lopez ]
Terri Schiavo’s parents are trying to get their daughter divorced so they can save her life. (To get a feel for how bad this is, read some of the background, and watch this video of her--a vulnerable woman who is about to be starved to death.)
Posted at 07:47 AM
AP: WHO NEEDS OBJECTIVITY? [Tim Graham]
AP reporter Latrice Davis wrote a letter on Romenesko's media blog: "We need to abandon this idea of objectivity. It's like perfection: something we can strive for but never achieve. A lot of what passes for journalism today isn't reporting, but stenography...Bias isn't a bad thing, as long as we're honest about it. (The jig is up, Fox News Channel -- you're NOT fair and balanced!)"
Hmm. Does AP endorse all of these viewpoints? While it's true no human is going to be personally objective in gathering and organizing the news, there is something worthy in the goal of the objective method, presenting both sides of a controversy without egregious editorializing. It's very easy to say objectivity is impossible, so here comes all my opinions, pal.
Posted at 07:43 AM
CONGRESS & U.N. SCANDALS [K. J. Lopez ]
Congress, where members have sharply criticized oil-for-food, is also taking up Congo sex abuse. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., was to lead hearings on the issue Tuesday.This is some of what we’re looking at.
Posted at 07:42 AM
BECAUSE I KNOW YOU'RE WONDERING [K. J. Lopez]
Romney's a C.
Ahnuld, sigh, is an A.
Posted at 07:21 AM
ARI ON THE MEDIA [Tim Graham]
Ari Fleischer has written a book about his days as a spokesman at the Bush White House. The Washington Post warns: he has a thing about liberal bias, and reproduces the quotes to prove it.
Posted at 07:18 AM
TEST TIME [John J. Miller]
One of my favorite D.C. think tank publications comes out today: the Cato Institute's fiscal policy report card on the governors. The Cato folks are tough graders, passing out only two A's (Bill Owens of Colorado and Ahh-nold in California) along with lots of C's and D's (and two F's, for Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Taxin' Bob Taft of Ohio). The full report should be online later today. Meanwhile, here's a press release announcing the publication, a WSJ editorial revealing the grades (subscribers only), and a Washington Examiner piece on the records of Bob Ehrlich in Maryland (grade: C) and Mark Warner in Virginia (grade: D).
Posted at 06:50 AM
NORTHWESTERN [Jonah Goldberg]
Fun time. It's cold here. It's also not that North or West, when you think about it. More in the AM.
Posted at 01:15 AM
Monday, February 28, 2005
SO... [K. J. Lopez]
is there any way a webzine can get away with calling a snowday? All the NE wimps are doing it...
Posted at 08:59 PM
RE: LEBANON AND IRAQ [K. J. Lopez]
Maybe I am trying to connect too many dots, but I think it is worth noting that on the same day when 114 innocent people die in a terror bombing outside of Baghdad, people in Lebanon are celebrating the possibility of freedom from Syria. Among other things, the nightmare in Hilla reminds us of the blessing of the possibility of freedom without-a-shot fired when that's an option (and the obligation to encourage it, as Ledeen is so wonderful at). And once again of the bravery of so many in Iraq.
Posted at 08:38 PM
"EXCESS" [K. J. Lopez]
The hopeful alternative to destroying so-called "excess"/"surplus" IVF embryos: adoption. Reuters has a story on embryo adoption in Spain.
Posted at 08:33 PM
PHOTOS [K. J. Lopez]
from the Lebanese streets.
Posted at 08:21 PM
JUST SAYING... [K. J. Lopez]
This, from a U.N. press release just out:
WOMEN'S SITUATION HAS IMPROVED, BUT SERIOUS CHALLENGES REMAIN, UN OFFICIALS SAY New York, Feb 28 2005 6:00PMWho was it who challenged the U.N. to address that trafficking problem? The hated cowboy W?
Miles to go yet, but worth noting, especially to the U.N. elite womynfest audience this week.
Excuse me before I break out my "W Stand for Women" regalia.
Posted at 08:12 PM
RE: ARAB REVOLUTION [Michael Ledeen]
Right on, K. I wonder why there hasn't been more talk here--except for the witty exchange between Rich and Jonah--about this Cedar Revolution in Lebanon. This event is another in a series of revolutionary uprisings against tyrants that have characterized the past few months: Ukraine, Iraq, now Lebanon, along with cracks in the edifices in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There is no ambiguity about the inspiration for the revolutionaries: it is us. And there is also no ambiguity about the importance of maintaining the revolutionary tempo. Ten, one hundred, one thousand Beiruts. Today Beirut, tomorrow Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran. And then we will see what is left of the terror network.
War is waged in many ways, and we possess the most lethal weapon in the world: the desire for freedom. President Bush ha--uniquely among world leaders--understood the nature of this moment and given it voice. We should be celebrating the fall of the Lebanese puppet regime, and we should be demanding referenda and free elections in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Sometimes tyrants can be brought down without firing a shot. It is happening every month. The so-called "realists" (actually reactionaries, as my pal Roger Simon never tires of reminding us) are now talking about making deals with the tyrants. This would be a terrible mistake. This is our moment, and the tyrants know it (I'm preparing a longer explication for tomorrow)...so let's win the whole thing.
Come on, guys, get with the program. Join the call for a referendum in Iran: "do you want an islamic republic, yes or no?" That is the deathknell of the mullahs, and the downfall of the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism.
Posted at 07:45 PM
BUSH DOCTRINE ON THE MARCH [K. J. Lopez]
Great quote tonight from an smart world observer re: Lebanon: "I think it could be an Arab version of the Orange Revolution."
Christo's orange Central Park is coming down today just in time for the new celebration?
Posted at 07:32 PM
REMBERING AL QAQAA [Cliff May]
Let me add this to Byron’s fine story today: The New York Times has never investigated – and never had its ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, investigate – this extraordinarily newsworthy question: Was the Grey Lady manipulated by a UN official, Mohammed ElBaradei, as part of a plot to affect the outcome of a U.S. presidential election?
This possibility was raised not only by me on NRO. This possibility also was raised by the Times’ own distinguished columnist, William Safire. Bill wrote in his Nov. 1, 2004 column: “Bin Laden was the second outsider to try to influence our election in an ‘October surprise.’ I suspect the first was Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief U.N. arms inspector …”
How might El Baradei have attempted to accomplish such a thing? You’ll recall that the charge that the Bush White House dropped the ball at Al Qaqaa was based on a letter written by an Iraqi official. That official was encouraged to write the letter by Mr. ElBaradei. But that official served in the interim government – not, apparently under Saddam Hussein. So how would he know? The Times never attempted to explain.
Nor did the Times interview that official. Instead, they interviewed his boss who, the Times asserted, “confirmed” that the explosives were stolen from under the nose of the U.S. military. But there is not a single corroborating quote. Indeed, the Iraqi says the opposite -- that the U.S. was in charge at that point, so only they could know what happened.
And the Times neglected to report, much less address, the Iraqi memo disclosed by ABC News’ Martha Radditz revealing that at least one of the two explosives in question had been removed much earlier, long before the U.S. invasion.
The Times also never attempted to explain how the looters could have removed 380 tons of explosives without U.S. forces knowing it – since to transport that much material would have required about 38 large trucks (10 tons per truck) loading up at Al Qaqaa and moving the explosives by road – taking them somewhere. We had satellites and drones watching over the Iraqi landscape by then.
There are many, many more questions about this story. I won’t rehearse them now.
But, for just a moment, let’s suppose that there are answers to all these questions. Let’s suppose that high explosives were stolen out from under the noses of American military commanders. Should that really have been an indictment of the President? Should Bush really have been taping maps of all the ammo dumps in Iraq on the walls of the Oval Office and using a satellite phone to make sure his generals and colonels were not goofing off?
If Daniel Okrent is a serious ombudsman, he has work cut out for him.
Posted at 07:02 PM
I LIED [K. J. Lopez]
One more Oscar post: Where was Theo Van Gogh? Did I miss him in the Yo Yo Ma segment?
Posted at 06:47 PM
JOSE PADILLA NEWS [K. J. Lopez]
[Update: Not surprisingly, DOJ will appeal.]
Posted at 05:59 PM
TV TONIGHT [NRO Staff]
Andy McCarthy will be on NBC News with Brian Williams.
Posted at 05:38 PM
MY LAST OSCAR POST [K. J. Lopez]
This is the best observation I've heard today, re: Sean Penn: "I think he became his puppet from Team America last night."
For annoying Penn and, undoubtedly, Tim Robbins, (among other things) I'll continue to be warm to Rock.
Posted at 05:37 PM
RE: CHRIS ROCK [K. J. Lopez]
One of my L.A. professional comedy guys reports from his watercooler: "Chris Rock is getting mixed-to-bad reviews, even among those who are wildly in agreement with his politics. He just wasn't that funny, which shouldn't really be surprising -- he is best when he is obscenity-laced and shockingly provocative, two tools which were taken away from him at the Kodak."
Posted at 05:04 PM
LEBANON [ Jonah Goldberg]
Today's WSJ has a very useful backgrounder on developments in Lebanon. It's subscriber only -- I read it on the plane.
Posted at 04:54 PM
I'M IN EVANSTON BTW [Jonah Goldberg]
Definitely seems to have a nice part of town -- and a not nice.
Posted at 04:53 PM
RE: BEIRUT [Jonah Goldberg]
I dunno Rich, I pass that giant dental mirror thing under my car every morning to check for bombs.
Posted at 04:52 PM
"WASHINGTON NOW FEELS SO MUCH LIKE BEIRUT" [Rich Lowry ]
That's what Ron Brownstein writes today in a bit of an, uh, over-statement. He's complaining about the USA Next anti-AARP gay marriage internet ad--fair enough. But I think he is wrong to so deplore frank ideological combat in Washington. Big ideas and principles are at stake--it's going to get rough. There's nothing wrong with that, and dueling advertising is a far cry from Beirut.
Posted at 03:49 PM
LEBANON IN THE DEMOCRATIC UNDERGROUND [K. J. Lopez]
The DNC would be wise to watch this self-destruction debate happening right now:
We can't just be against every single thing Bush does and say that is bad.
Posted at 03:31 PM
GANNON UPDATE [Byron York]
Today the White House Correspondents' Association released a statement indicating that it will not call for any changes in the White House press credentialing system in the wake of the Jeff Gannon matter. The statement reads, in full:
"Since 1914, the White House Correspondents' Association has operated independently of the White House and the White House credentialing process. We intend for the White House Correspondents' Association to remain independent of that process.
"Consistent with the First Amendment, the White House Correspondents' Association stands for inclusiveness in the credentialing process so that the White House remains accessible to all journalists. We hope that individual episodes do not obscure the broader principles of a fair and evenhanded credentialing process that serves the goal of free and full exchange of information."
Some anti-Bush groups, among them David Brock's Media Matters for America, have called on the White House to limit access to press briefings. White House correspondents have generally opposed such a move, and today Correspondents' Association president Ron Hutcheson (of Knight-Ridder newspapers) told National Review that the organization also opposes any new limits. "If we ever felt like [Bush press secretary Scott McClellan] or anybody else at the White House was applying some sort of ideological screen, we'd raise a stink," Hutcheson said, adding that, "we're not proposing any changes."
Posted at 03:16 PM
THIS JUST IN: [Jack Fowler]
Another testimonial about our boffo kids books offer (3 humdingers for just $29.95), this from NRO devotee Charles Snee:
“Too good to pass up, this deal. Thanks very much. I look forward to reading them to my two older girls, ages 7 and 4.”Smart man that Snee – The National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories is the ideal tome for parents seeking something wholesome to read at night to the kiddies. You want to “bond” with the little ones – this collection will bond you to ’em like superglue! I can’t imagine a conservative house without this great book, which you can get here.
Posted at 03:14 PM
BROWSER HEADACHES [John Derbyshire]
On the recommendation of absolutely everybody, I switched from IE to Firefox as my Internet browser.
I have now switched back, Firefox having wasted too much of my time, and failed to do too many things that I am used to doing. (Worst of all: It would not play my clip of the dude lip-syncing that Romanian pop song!)
I finally gave up on Firefox when, attempting to start it up, I got a box saying "choose user profile." OK, I thought, and chose the default profile. THIS PROFILE IS ALREADY IN USE, said Firefox. Well, no, it isn't. Grrr. Back to IE and all the poisoned cookies that come in with it. At least the bloody thing starts up.
Posted at 02:25 PM
INSULTING DON CORLEONE [Mark Krikorian]
An encouraging piece in today’s Post (no, Derb, the Washington one) on the IRA’s unraveling hold over Catholics in Northern Ireland. You can read the whole story here, but the best line came from a woman whose brother was murdered by IRA scum in a bar fight: "They're likened to the Mafia -- but frankly that's an insult to the Mafia."
Posted at 02:21 PM
LEBANON'S PRO-SYRIAN GOVERNMENT [K. J. Lopez]
Posted at 12:25 PM
ENGLAND SOUNDS LIKE A BAD ASHLEY JUDD MOVIE [K. J. Lopez ]
(If you saw it, you know what I mean.) “Dairy cow herds can also be intensely sexual…”
Posted at 12:23 PM
LIVES ON THE LINE? [K. J. Lopez ]
Speaking of last week’s party: I met two delightful ER docs from Mississippi who confessed to a clinical addiction to The Corner. I’m not entirely sure how to process such information: Make sure no one is too engaging? Never leave readers in suspense? Present a calming atmosphere whenever possible? Just leave it blank so as to not have to worry?
With great power comes great responsibility.
Posted at 10:51 AM
THANKS [Ed Capano]
A sincere (belated) thank you to all those who attended the fundraising party at Bill Buckley’s last Thursday evening for your generous support of our efforts. It is always gratifying to me, as the resident “suit,” to see, first hand, the quality of our supporters--not only charming, eloquent, and well informed, but just plain nice. As Bill Buckley remarked to me the next day, “they were 75 of the nicest people I ever met.” Plus it was great fun. We shall do it again (at Bill’s) and we shall do it again elsewhere around the country. My goal is to meet all 2,000,000 people who log on to NRO. Thanks again.
Posted at 10:32 AM
YUCK [K. J. Lopez]
Rick Santorum is talking about the possibility of a tax increase now?
Posted at 10:28 AM
MESSING LINK [Jack Fowler]
Lately I’ve been putting up screwy links up for our special offer on kids book (three for $29.95!). I promise: this one is correct. Now get linking!
Posted at 10:20 AM
"WHEN I HAVE BEEN DRUNK OR STONED..." [K. J. Lopez]
There's a new Derb Radio up.
Posted at 10:14 AM
TALES FROM THE CRYPT [John Derbyshire]
That is, the Marketing Department.
"Derb, some years ago at a previous employer one of our battier corporate VPs came up with the idea of distributing whistles to our elderly customers who would use them to alert passers-by in the event of a robbery or an 'I've fallen and I can't get up' scenario. She had several thousand made up and they were emblazoned with our corporate logo and the words 'BLOW ME FOR HELP.' When presented at a Board meeting for approval our CEO took one look at a sample whistle, laughed uproariously, and scuttled the whole campaign right then and there. The whistles were summarily destroyed though a tiny number survived and became cherished contraband among some employees who managed to get their hands on them."
Posted at 10:06 AM
SOMEBODY SAY SNOW? [K. J. Lopez]
I might call into local radio and TV stations and report that NRO is closing early, just for the free publicity.
Posted at 09:57 AM
WHERE’S NOW? [K. J. Lopez ]
A feminist speaks out against cloning. Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, writes about embryonic-stem-cell research that requires cloning: “Omitted from the polarized debate is any discussion of the thousands of women who will need to undergo egg extraction procedures for such embryo cloning. A primary concern is the substantial risks to women's health posed by the extraction procedure and the inability to obtain true informed consent from egg donors given the current lack of adequate safety data.” Read the whole piece here.
Posted at 09:55 AM
GETTING SYRIA [K. J. Lopez]
Israel says it has proof Syria was behind the Tel Aviv bombing last week.
Posted at 09:54 AM
HUMAN REPLACEMENTS [K. J. Lopez ]
This is wildly disturbing and depressing: Toys for the lonely:
As Japan produces fewer children and more retirees, toymakers are designing new dolls designed not for the young but for the lonely elderly -- companions which can sleep next to them and offer caring words they may never hear otherwise.
Posted at 09:43 AM
THE PATRIOTIC ACLU [Jonathan H. Adler]
Orin Kerr reports that the ACLU actually approves of most of the Patriot Act.
Posted at 09:41 AM
BLOGGING BEIRUT [Jonah Goldberg]
Publius Pundit at the point.
Posted at 09:37 AM
BEIJING +10: BRACE YOURSELF [K. J. Lopez ]
The U.N. begins another women conference (womyn?)--but this time, at least, we're not the abortion extremists.
Posted at 09:33 AM
24 & COMMITTED [K. J. Lopez ]
Good question: “Will NBC be as responsive to the complaints of Catholic viewers as FOX was to the Muslims who protested the hit drama 24?”
Posted at 09:28 AM
HOLLYWOOD INTERRUPTED [K. J. Lopez ]
In case you've overdosed on Hollywood this morning, you might enjoy this interview with Andrew Breitbart from a few weeks ago.
Posted at 09:25 AM
OUCH [K. J. Lopez]
(Past Oscar nominee) Roger L. Simon on the Oscars (lots of blogging from last night here): "Jeremy Irons is actually funnier than Rock."
Posted at 09:23 AM
NORTHWESTERN [Jonah Goldberg]
Yes, it's still on assuming snow doesn't ground me (which I doubt). I will be there. 7:30 tonight, Harris Hall rm 107. It's open to the public. I'm having dinner with college Republicans et al beforehand. And there's no time for lunch before that. Thanks for all of the wonderfully generous invitations though. As for the topic, they asked me to talk about internet journalism, blogging and their effect on politics. In other words they've asked for me to come up with something other than my usual topics.
Posted at 09:18 AM
LIBERTAS ON OSCARS [Jonathan H. Adler]
It did not take long for the Oscar telecast to offend Govindini Murty. I expected as much, and didn't watch.
Posted at 09:17 AM
AD JINGLE OF THE MONTH [John Derbyshire]
So we were riding up to the Catskills for the family ski trip, with the car radio tuned to some New York area news station. An ad came on for one of those companies that wants you to switch from oil central heating to natural gas. After a fairly routine pitch, the ad told listeners that if they wanted to sign up, they should call 1-877-IVE-GOT-GAS. Say what? Then there was a little jingle, with a pleasant-voiced woman singling about the delights of natural gas, ending up with a melodious rendering of "1-800-IVE-GOT-GAS." My kids, in the back seat of the car, were in stitches. I thought it was a spoof, like those fake ads they do on Saturday Night Live. No, it was real: I called 1-800-IVE-GOT-GAS and someone tried to sell me a conversion to household natural gas.
Reminds me of a fiasco in the British advertising industry some years ago. One of the big frozen-foods companies decided on a new marketing strategy for frozen fish. They came up with a package they decided to call COD PIECES....
Posted at 09:15 AM
RE: “TOO POSH TO PUSH” [K. J. Lopez ]
That could refer to women who opt for Cesareans when they don’t need them, too.
Posted at 09:15 AM
EUPHONY [John Derbyshire]
A nice little bit of euphonious phrase-making: In a review of Brit-chick-lit novelist Wendy Holden in the Feb '05 Literary Review, I learn the current designation for yuppie mothers who consider basic mommying tasks like pushing the stroller to be beneath their dignity: "Too Posh to Push."
Posted at 09:11 AM
HEATHER MACDONALD ON THE ESTRICH-LATIMES SILLINESS [K. J. Lopez ]
You gotta love this. She concludes:
Depressingly, Estrich’s crusade, no matter how bogus, will undoubtedly bear fruit. Anyone in a position of power today, facing accusations of bias and the knowledge that people are using crude numerical measures to prove his bias, will inevitably start counting beans himself, whether consciously or not. Michael Kinsley could reassure every female writer out there that Estrich has not cowed him by publishing only men for the next six months. It would be an impressive rebuff to Estrich’s blackmail. I’ll happily forgo the opportunity to appear in the Times for a while in order to get my pride back.
Posted at 08:59 AM
NO PAPAL “LIVING WILL” [K. J. Lopez ]
What an odd, angry Newsweek “report” by Christopher Dickey. You think he’s saying the pope imposes his (stubborn) will on the church? He only says it multiple times. Could we get this guy a less-angry editor?
Posted at 08:58 AM
ARNOLD VS. AMNESTY [Tim Graham]
The Washington Times replays from yesterday's "TWiGS" (short for "This Week with George Stephanopoulos") Gov. Schwarzenegger on immigration: "We know that the amnesty program didn't work. We have done that once before under the Reagan years, and it backfired big-time."
Posted at 08:57 AM
VULNERABLE LANDRIEU [K. J. Lopez ]
A Louisiana senator, judges, and our own Shannen Coffin.
Posted at 08:56 AM
ANOTHER HAPPY CUSTOMER! [Jack Fowler]
A dad who ordered our kids books – via the special where you get volume two of The National Review Treasury of Classic Children’s Literature, plus The National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories, plus L. Frank Baum’s rollicking Queen Zixi of Ix, all for just $29.95, which includes shipping and handling! – sent this simple email I’m pleased to share with you:
Got them yesterday. Thanks! The girls love Reddy the Fox. We did “one more chapter” five times last night.Reddy Fox is, of course, one of many beloved woodland creatures created by the great Thornton Burgess, and the star of one of the 10 delightful adventure tales that comprise our Bedtime Stories collection. Imagine that was your kid or grandkid, tucked in and happily listening to a wonderful tale about Reddy, Peter Rabbit, Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and Johnny Chuck, begging for “one more chapter” before settling down to sweet dreams. Amigos, NR’s kids books are all we claim (wholesome, wonderful literature, enjoyed by kids!), as the folks who buy them are only too willing to admit. Find out what’s making them so happy! Again, we’re running a special where you get three of our best titles for only $29.95. Don’t delay: order the safely here.
Posted at 08:50 AM
THE FREEDOM MOMENT [Jonah Goldberg]
Jackson Diehl has a good rundown of events in the Middle East. I'm not sure he gives the White House enough credit. But then again, this could all go south so credit could still turn to blame. His closer:
Virtually no one in Washington expected such a snowballing of events following Iraq's elections. Not many yet believe that they will lead to real democracy in Egypt, Lebanon or Syria anytime soon. But it is a fact of history that the collapse of a rotted political order usually happens quickly, and takes most of the experts by surprise. In early 1989 I surveyed a panoply of West German analysts about the chances that the then-incipient and barely noticed unrest in Eastern Europe could lead to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. None thought it possible; most laughed at me for asking the question.
Posted at 08:04 AM
FEMINISTS AND VICTIMIZATION [K. J. Lopez ]
Jessica Gavora—a.k.a. Jonah’s “Fair Jessica”—has a great review of the latest motherhood book Perfect Madness in the Washington Examiner, which, she says, “succeeds in exposing the hollow core of modern feminism.”
Judith Warner's book is unreal but not at all untypical of left-wing feminism. Some more from Gavora:
In Warner's account, women are increasingly leaving full-time work for full-time motherhood not because they are shaking off the baggage of feminism but because they are victims of economic forces they can't control - i.e., 60- and 70- hour workweeks that are incompatible with family life for both mother and father. And the return to home and child, needless to say, has not been good for women.
Posted at 08:02 AM
"WE STAND AT THE HINGE OF HISTORY," [K. J. Lopez ]
Bob Novak on cloning and Romney: “an overpowering issue that dwarfs Social Security reform and even democratizing Iraq.”
Posted at 07:54 AM
CLASSY OSCAR GAL [K. J. Lopez ]
Jaime Foxx’s daughter looked great last night—so often kids are not dressed their age, at the shopping mall, never mind the Academy Awards. She looked pretty and appropriate.
That will be the sum total of my red-carpet fashion policing, I promise.
Posted at 07:49 AM
ENTER THE BLOGOSPHERE [K. J. Lopez ]
Some good news from Iraq, here.
Posted at 07:48 AM
MEDIA AND IRAQ [K. J. Lopez ]
Allawi in WSJ: “We have a better chance of getting this right if the constitutional debate is as broad and public as possible. The whole of Iraqi society needs to be engaged in both the debate and the reconciliation which it should bring. This places a big responsibility on the new, free media in Iraq.”
Posted at 07:48 AM
MORE NEWS FROM BEIRUT [Jonah Goldberg ]
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Thousands of demonstrators massed in central Beirut overnight to defy a government ban on protests on Monday ahead of a fiery debate in parliament over the assassination of the country's former prime minister.
Posted at 07:44 AM
DOWD [Jonah Goldberg]
I was almost startled by how un-charming she was on Meet the Press yesterday. Keep in mind I don't normally find her charming, but she went so deep into the negative yesterday it was amazing. There's nothing particularly wrong with having prepared lines before you do national TV, but this was both so obviously a bit of schtick:
And look at us, and we're torturing people and we're outsourcing torture. The administration is trying to throw journalists in jail and basically trying to replace the whole press crew with ringers, including male escorts. I mean, even Nixon hated the press, but he never tried to actually do an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" thing with them. So as Tom has pointed out, it's a Pandora's box. There are good spirits and evil spirits that we've unleashed.
The reason you can tell it's schtick is that it's not very good analysis. The torture thing is a fair point. But the bit about "trying to put journalists in jail" is a remarkable stretch of the facts and the connection between Gannon and the White House is the stuff of lefty-blog fantasy. In other words, she went in with a line that she thought was more important -- because she thought it was funny -- than she thought it was true. It was in fact neither very funny nor very true and when delivered in that Eric-Alterman-twang not very effective either.
Posted at 07:40 AM
ON THE RADIO [NRO Staff]
Jay Nordlinger will be a guest on Bill Bennett's Morning in America at 7:30 a.m. Eastern today.
Posted at 07:25 AM
BIDEN HIS TIME [K. J. Lopez ]
Sounds like someone is getting to work early on running for a veep or Cabinet position.
Posted at 07:15 AM
OSCAR NOTE [Rick Brookhiser]
Has Renee Zollweger lost her mind with that dark hair?
Posted at 06:59 AM
SYRIAN NERVES [Rick Brookhiser]
I know I have some Baathists somewhere...Wait! here they are...Maybe there's more, call me tomorrow?...
Posted at 06:58 AM
Sunday, February 27, 2005
CHE CHIC [K. J. Lopez]
on the red carpet, from Carlos Santana.
Adam Sandler's American flag pin (the only one I've noticed) is a refreshing counterbalance.
Posted at 09:45 PM
TIM ROBBINS: “BORING US TO DEATH WITH HIS POLITICS” [K. J. Lopez ]
I knew I was right to have a soft spot for Chris Rock.
Posted at 09:37 PM
NERVES AT WORK? [K. J. Lopez]
Syria hands Iraq Saddam's half brother.
Posted at 09:00 PM
DON'T EXPECT [K. J. Lopez]
constant Oscar blogging...see ya later.
Posted at 08:53 PM
TOXIC TANK TOPS [K. J. Lopez ]
Dudes, is there like anyone in the room not applauding a little too enthusiastically at the Bush jokes?
Posted at 08:44 PM
"WHO IS JUDE LAW? " [K. J. Lopez ]
Chris Rock (from his Oscar monologue) has got to be healthy for Hollywood.
Posted at 08:44 PM
PRISON WOES [Andrew Stuttaford]
Via the New York Times yet another appalling story from the American prison system:
“Brian Tetrault was 44 when he was led into a dim county jail cell in upstate New York in 2001, charged with taking some skis and other items from his ex-wife's home. A former nuclear scientist who had struggled with Parkinson's disease, he began to die almost immediately, and state investigators would later discover why: The jail's medical director had cut off all but a few of the 32 pills he needed each day to quell his tremors.”
This just isn’t acceptable.
Posted at 07:27 PM
BUSH AND THE EU [Andrew Stuttaford]
The Sunday Telegraph is today running a report that “President Bush's speech to European leaders last week was toned down at the last moment to avoid giving his support to the proposed EU constitution, after a strenuous lobbying campaign by conservative activists in Washington.” I’ve no idea how true this is, but if there is anything to the report that the President was even thinking of giving his support to the proposed constitution it shows that someone in the administration is not doing his (or, perhaps, her) homework.
Meanwhile in a report in its weekend edition the Financial Times had almost the opposite to say: “By coming out in favor of a “strong Europe” at the seat of European government in Brussels, Mr. Bush sided with the realists and against the neoconservatives who have a wary view of an integrated Europe.”
In some ways it is the latter report that is the more interesting. The Financial Times is a reliable mouthpiece for the Brussels bureaucracy, and we can assume that what it is saying reflects their spin. The Brussels line will thus, clearly, fall into two parts. The first is the assertion, reassuring to American’s remaining allies on the continent, that the US is comfortable with further integration, the second is the claim, designed to cement the constitution’s appeal amongst the majority of Europeans suspicious of the US, that it is those sinister ‘neocons’ who are at the bottom of efforts to thwart its passing.
Mark Steyn, meanwhile, has his own take on the situation. He’s too pessimistic about Europe’s prospects for my taste, but this is too good not to repeat:
”The new EU ''constitution,'' for example, would be unrecognizable as such to any American. I had the opportunity to talk with former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on a couple of occasions during his long labors as the self-declared and strictly single Founding Father. He called himself ''Europe's Jefferson,'' and I didn't like to quibble that, constitution-wise, Jefferson was Europe's Jefferson -- that's to say, at the time the U.S. Constitution was drawn up, Thomas Jefferson was living in France. Thus, for Giscard to be Europe's Jefferson, he'd have to be in Des Moines, where he'd be doing far less damage.”
Posted at 07:16 PM
WISDOM FROM HOLLYWOOD - REALLY [Andrew Stuttaford]
From the executive producer of the (rather good) new Battlestar Galactica , in response to the question as to why one of his characters (a doctor, no less) smokes:
“I'm also frankly tired of all the anti-smoking p.c. crap that we're bombarded with these days and I decided that this was a world without all that. Call it my one sop to the idea of an idealized society, the notion that adults can make informed choices and not be nagged to death or run out of public spaces for making choices that others may not like or agree with.”
Posted at 07:15 PM
RATHER SAD [K. J. Lopez]
Putin's aides really need to be reading the blogosphere.
Posted at 07:03 PM
HOWARD DEAN’S BILL OF GOODS [K. J. Lopez]
The DNC chair in Kansas:
On abortion specifically, he said, the party must commit to making abortions "safe, legal and rare" while maintaining women's rights to choose.
Posted at 01:55 PM
SET THE CONTROLS WITH THE HELP OF THE SUN [Andrew Stuttaford]
“A spacecraft that flies on sunbeams is about to begin its travels across the solar system. A group of American and Russian scientists are preparing to launch a probe with giant, wafer-thin plastic sails that can catch sunlight just as a yacht's sails fill with wind.”
Who says that technology cannot be beautiful?
Posted at 11:04 AM
THE CANARY IN THE COALMINE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Good – if depressing - piece from the London Sunday Times on the situation in Holland. One interesting angle in the story is the way in which the phenomenon of mass immigration has now intersected with membership of the EU to make an already tricky problem unmanageable.
“And what of the EU? "Migration has to be managed at a European level," Aboutaleb says. "But there is no common sense on asylum or illegals," he adds. Because EU passports are recognised throughout the union, the action of one country in accepting — or refusing — migrants affects others. Aboutaleb cites Spain as an example. In 2000, it had an amnesty of 250,000 sin papeles (illegals). This month, at a time of increasing controls elsewhere, it announced another amnesty. "Spain has perhaps a million illegals, in agriculture and construction," Aboutaleb says. "The moment they get an EU passport, they can move all over Europe." Fears that other countries would be affected have been confirmed. Within a few days, 10,000 illegals from other countries who hoped to benefit from the amnesty, many with false papers showing Spanish addresses, were turned back by Spanish border police.”
The Sunday Times then goes on to note that, when it comes to immigration, EU authorities are pursuing their own agenda. "Vladimir Spidla, the labour and social affairs commissioner in Brussels, claimed this month that rising age levels mean that Europe "needs to accept large numbers of economic migrants. Naturally, if you only look at the next two weeks, things look different. But in the EU we have to work on the long term and we definitely need immigration"."
Spidla, is, quite simply, talking nonsense. While a degree of controlled immigration of the skilled and the well-qualified into Europe is a good idea, the idea that in a continent of high unemployment there is a need to import a large number of workers is implausible in the extreme. What there is is a need to increase - and reward - productivity, but that's another question altogether.
What’s more, as this report from today’s New York Times notes, there are clear signs that discomfort with the effects of mass immigration into the Netherlands may be prompting emigration from that country, and that, Mr. Spidla, is not exactly the way to remedy a labor ‘shortage’.
Reasonably enough, the Sunday Times writer goes on to ask whether the EU is "part of the problem, or should it impose a solution? Some say that it is undermining the validity of the nation state, without creating a coherent alternative. The EU is fine for the elimination of customs barriers, but can it cope with more? "Europe has no cultural or political identity," argues Shmuel Trigano, a professor at the University of Paris-Nanterre. "Nor does it have common values. Its capital in Brussels is only an administrative and bureaucratic centre." The crisis in European identity, he has written, is likely to have "unforeseen and profound consequences".
Yes it is, and those who urge – or support – a deeper federalization of the EU (at least as currently envisaged) are being profoundly irresponsible.
Posted at 10:53 AM